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InvisibleJohn
ssdp.org

Registered: 08/08/03
Posts: 7,026
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
McKenna Interviews
    #2902720 - 07/18/04 03:56 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Was browsing my schools e-database and found these, don't know if they are already on the (open) web but doubt it as they are from magazines and the school pays for access to the various databases. anyway enjoy, they're pretty long :stoned:

Quote:

Omni, May 1993 v15 n7 p69(8)
Terence McKenna. (botanist) (Interview) Sukie Miller.
Abstract: Ethnobotanist McKenna's radical ideas include the theory that prehistoric humans ingested hallucinogenic plants that prompted evolution. He believes enlightenment can be achieved through drugs such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and psilocybin.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT Omni Publications International Ltd. 1993

My life is like a James Joyce scratch pad," declares Terence McKenna. "I have a lot of fun, a kind of reverse paranoia. I think reality is a plot for my own amusement and advancement--which it seems to be. It's absolutely eerie." Ethnobotanist, radical historian, and co-steward of a botanical garden in Hawaii where he collects endangered plant species and their lore, McKenna is, as well, a world-class psychedelic researcher.

In the Sixties, it was not uncommon for friends or colleagues to leave for awhile, then return. These travelers, however, had not made round trips to such identifiable exotic stops as Tibet or China, or even Mexico. Rather, they had tripped on acid or mushrooms: new territory. Upon reentry they would be asked the usual questions one asks a traveler: "What did you see? Who did you meet? How long were you gone?" And they'd show their slides, as it were.

In those years, taking psychedelic drugs was viewed as self-experimentation. One's goal was informational--to learn and explore. And taking drugs carried an unstated mandate: It was incumbent upon you to contribute to the unofficial databank--report the efficacy of various doses, the effect of varying settings, elapsed duration, potential uses, and so forth. It was not uncommon to ask, "Why did you take it?"--truly a statement of inquiry. Terence McKenna comes from this tradition.

Born in 1946 in western Colorado, McKenna moved to Los Altos, California, when he was in high school. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a major in shamanism and the conservation of natural resources. Collecting Asian art in the East, for years he also made his living as a professional butterfly collector. In his 1992 book Food of the Gods, McKenna delineates a radical history of drugs and human evolution, chronicling our descent from "stoned apes" and extolling the virtues of psilocybin mushrooms and DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a potent psychedelic compound. Eve achieves top billing in our collective history as "the mistress of magical plants."

Heralded by some as the "New Scientist," McKenna admits that "defenders of orthodox science find me a pain." When he was younger, this so bothered him that he sought the counsel of Gunther Stent, the pioneering Swedish genetic biochemist. McKenna sat in front of his hero and earnestly laid out his research, theories, and ideas of science. "What I am interested to know is," McKenna concluded, "are these ideas fallacious?" Rising from behind his desk, Stent crossed the room, placed his hands on McKenna's shoulders, and delivered the following: "My dear young friend." they aren't even fallacious!" Although crushed and shattered by the encounter, McKenna persevered to become a high-voltage speaker, storehouse of remarkable information, and prolific writer of worldwide repute.

Before this interview, McKenna offered friend and interrogator Sukie Miller the following tip: "Being able to pun, sing, or riddle will usually get you through fairy checkpoints. To deal with real fairies is to enter a realm of riddles and puzzle settings where what they punish is stupidity and what they love is intellectual cleverness." Editor's note: Sukie Miller, Ph.D., is a practicing psychotherapist in New York City, a former director of Esalen, and the Director of the Death and Dying II Project.)

Omni: You've been called a prophet, madman, the most important visionary scholar in America, a bard of our psychedelic birthright, and more. How did you grow up? Was there something in the water at your house? McKenna: I was born in a Colorado cattle and coal-mining town of 1,500 people called Paonia. They wanted to name it Peony but didn't know how to spell it. In your last year of high school, you got your girlfriend pregnant, married her, and went to work in the coal mines. An intellectual was someone who read Time. My mother went to secretarial school and had a very large vocabulary. She was aware of classical music and writing and was my grandfather's favorite daughter.

His metier was language. He frequently used the phrase "the fustilerian fizgigs from Zimmerman!" I reconstructed it. It means "a shrewish fishwife from a town named Zimmerman." Whenever he got excited, he'd yell, "~Great God!' said the woodcock when the hawk struck him." A nut, a poet is what he was.

Omni: How early in your life were you into altered states? McKenna: Until I was three, we lived in my grandfather's house. I've had regression-hallucinations where I see myself in my child body playing with my trains alone in that living room. Then something catches my attention and I turn and look: A DMT hallucination is pouring out of the air, into this house, into the room. This is not supposed to be happening. This is not permitted! It was as if an invisible teapot were beginning to pour some heavy, colored liquid swimming with objects and shapes, a flowering geometry. It was as if reality got broken, like a window could get broken, and the outside--poured through the teapot--came rushing in. I go to find my mother to show her. Then, of course, it's not there. Omni: And now? Toward what end is your research directed? McKenna: I can't stomach the human tragedy of somebody going to the grave ignorant of what is possible. I make the analogy to sex. Few people can avoid some kind of experience with sex-sex informs the experience of humanness; sex is a great joy and travail. I don't like to think about someone going to the grave without ever having contacted it. This work is that big. It's ours. It makes available an entire domain of being that somehow got lost, to our detriment.

Omni: What is DMT's effect?

McKenna: My best guess is that it mediates attention so that when you hear a noise coming from someplace within your peripheral vision, you turn and focus on what the noise might be. Somehow this very rapid focusing of mental functioning is driven by DMT It is also a Schedule I drug. So technically, we are all bustible all the time! The paradox is that DMT is the safest and quickest hallucinogen to leave your system-safest, that is, in terms of any accumulated detriment to the organism.

Omni: Food of the Gods relates DMT to psilocybin. What's the connection?

McKenna: Psilocybin and DMT are chemically near relatives. My book is about the history of drugs; it tries to show drugs' cultural and personality-shaping impact. People have attempted-unsuccessfully--to answer the question of how our minds and consciousness evolved from the ape. They've tried all kinds of things to account for this evolution, but to my mind, the key unlocking this great mystery is the presence of psychoactive plants in the diet of early man.

Omni: What led you to this startling conclusion? McKenna: Orthodox evolutionary theory tells us that small adaptive advantages eventually become genetically scripted into a species. The species builds upon this minute change to further its adaptive advantage until ultimately it outbreeds all of its competitors for a particular niche or environment.

Omni: So prehistoric humans got a leg up on the apes by ingesting a drug? McKenna: Yes. Lab work shows that psilocybin eaten in amounts so small that it can't be detected, as an experience, increases visual acuity In the Sixties, Roland Fisher at the National Institute of Mental Health gave graduate students psilocybin and then a battery of eye tests. His results indicated that edges were visually detected more readily if a bit of psilocybin was present in the student's body Well, edge detection is exactly what hunting animals in the grassland environments use to observe distant prey! So here you have this chemical factor; when added to the diet, it results in greater success in hunting. That, in turn, results in greater success in child rearing and so increases the size of the next generation.

As we descended from the trees and into the grasslands, began to experiment with bipedal gait and omnivorous diet, we encountered mushrooms. At low doses, they increase visual acuity; at midrange, they cause general central-nervous-system arousal, which in a highly sexed primate means a lot of horsing around, which means there is more pregnancy among females associated with psilocybin-using behavior. Higher dosages of psilocybin leads to group sexuality and dissolved boundaries between individuals. The ego dissolves and you experience boundary ecstasy. We can assume that as the level of ingestion became high enough, egoless states were quite common.

The way I analyze the modern predicament-pollution, male dominance, there are a million ways to say it--the overriding problems are brought on by the existence of the ego, a maladaptive behavioral complex in the psyche that gets going like a tumor. If it's not treated--if there's not pharmacological intervention--it becomes the dominant constellation of the personality.

Omni: How did all this play out? McKenna: From 75,000 to about 15,000 years ago, there was a kind of human paradise on Earth. People danced, sang, had poetry, jokes, riddles, intrigue, and weapons, but they didn't possess the notion of ego as we've allowed it to crystallize in Western societies. The reason for this lack of ego was a social style of mushroom taking and an orgiastic sexual style that was probably lunar in its timing. Nobody went more than three or four weeks before they were redissolved into pure feeling and boundary dissolution. Community, loyalty, altruism, self-sacrifice--all these values that we take to be the basis of humanness--arose at that time in a situation in which the ego was absent.

Omni: If this was all so wonderful, why did it end?

McKenna: The most elegant explanation is that the very force that created the original breakthrough swept away its conditions. The climatological drying of Africa forced us out of the forest canopy, onto the grasslands, and into bipedalism and omnivorous diets. We lived in that paradisaical grasslands situation, but the climate was slowly getting drier. Mushrooms began to be less available. There could've been many strategies for obtaining mushrooms, all detrimental. The first would be to do it only at great holidays, and only a certain class of people--shamans, for example. Eventually the mushroom only existed around water holes in the rain shadows of certain mountains; finally, the mushroom was gone. At that moment, under great pressure from the drying climate, agriculture was invented. Agriculture represents an intellectual understanding of how cause and effect can be separated in time. You return to last year's camp, look where you discarded the trash, and there all in one place are the food plants you so carefully gathered. Women, the gatherers, put this together: Wow! Bury food, come back a year later, and it's there. This was a watershed in the development of abstract thought.

At the same time, men were understanding that the sex act, previously associated with this group orgiastic stuff, was the equivalent of burying food and coming back a year later! Male paternity is recognized as a phenomenon. The road to hell is paved-eight lanes!--from that point on. The man thinks my--my children, not our children--and therefore, animals I kill are food for my women and my children. Women are seen as property. The ego is rampant and in full force. Omni: How does data on psilocybin support your theory? McKenna: Well, here's the problem: Psilocybin, discovered in 1953, not chemically characterized until 1957, became illegal in 1966. The window of opportunity to study this drug in humans was only nine years. People working with psilocybin never dreamed they'd be forbidden by law to work in this area. When LSD was first released into the psychotherapeutic community, it swept through with the same impact that the news of the splitting of the atom touched the physics community. People thought, "Ah-ha! Now we're going to understand mental illness, trauma, and obsession, this being only the first of a family of drugs that will lead to an operational understanding of the genesis and curing of neuroses!"

When the scientific establishment was informed that there would be no government-grant support for psychedelic research, they just bowed their fuzzy heads and went along with it. The consequences of their failure to stand up to that decision is a mangled society and a science that hasn't fulfilled it's agenda. In no other instance has science laid down so gutlessly and allowed the state to tell it how to do its business.

I'm not trying to make a revolution in primate archaeology or theories of human emergence. My scenario, if true, has enormous implications. For 10,000 years, with the language and social skills of angels, we've pursued an agenda of beasts and demons. Human beings created an altruistic communal society; then, by withdrawing the psilocybin or having it become unavailable, we've had nothing to fall back upon except old primate behaviors, all tooth-and-claw dominance.

Omni: You're giving an enormous amount of power to a drug. What can you tell me about psilocybin? McKenna: We don't know what DMT means. It's like Columbus sighting land, and somebody says, "So you saw land; is that a big deal?" And Columbus says, "You don't understand; it is the New World."

For the last 500 years, Western culture has suppressed the idea of disembodied intelligences--of the presence and reality of spirit. Thirty seconds into the DMT flash, and that's a dead issue. The drug shows us that culture is an artifact. You can be a New York psychotherapist or a Yoruba shaman, but these are just provisional realities you're committed to out of conventional or local customs.

Omni: Well, it gives one something to do, Terence.

McKenna: Yes, but most people think it's what's happening. Psilocybin shows you everything you know is wrong. The world is not a single, one-dimensional, forward-moving, causal, connected thing, but some kind of interdimensional nexus.

Omni: If everything I know is wrong, then what?

McKenna: You have to reconstruct. It's immediately a tremendous permission for the imagination. I don't have to follow Sartre, Jesus, or anybody else. Everything melts away, and you say, "It's just me, my mind, and Mother Nature." This drug shows us that what's waiting on the other side is a terrifyingly real self-consistent modality, a world that stays constant every time you visit it.

Omni: What is waiting? Who? McKenna: You burst into a space. Somehow, you can tell it's underground or an immense weight is above it. There's a feeling of enclosure, yet the space itself is open, warm, comfortable, upholstered in some very sensual material. Entities there are completely formed. There's no ambiguity about the fact that these entities are there.

Omni: What are they like, Terence?

McKenna: Trying to describe them isn't easy. On one level I call them self-transforming machine elves: half machine, half elf. They are also like self-dribbling jeweled basketballs, about half that volume, and they move very quickly and change. And they are, somehow, awaiting. When you burst into this space, there's a cheer! Pink Floyd has a song, "The Gnomes Have Learned a New Way to Say Hooray." Then they come forward and tell you, "Do not give way to amazement. Do not abandon yourself." You're amazingly astonished. The most conservative explanation for these elves, since these things are speaking English and are intelligent, is that they're some kind of human beings. They're obviously not like you and me, so they're either the prenatal or postmortal phase of human existence, or maybe both, if you follow Indian thinking. You're saying, "Heart beat? Normal. Pulse? Normal." But your mind is saying, "No, no. I must be dead. It's too radical, too fucking radical. It's not the drug; drugs don't do stuff like this." Meanwhile, what you're seeing is not going away.

Omni: What are these elves, these creatures about?

McKenna: They are teaching something. Theirs is a higher dimensional language that condenses as a visible syntax. For us, syntax is the structure of meaning; meaning is something heard or felt. In this world, syntax is something you see. There, the boundless meanings of language cause it to overflow the normal audio channels and enter the visual channels. They come bouncing, hopping toward you, and then it's like--all this is metaphor; they don't have arms--it's as though they reach into their intestines and offer you something. They offer you an object so beautiful, so intricately wrought, so something else that cannot be said in English, that just gazing on this thing, you realize such an object is impossible. The best comparison is Faberge eggs. The object generates other objects, and it's all happening in a scene of wild merriment and confusion.

Ordinarily language creates a system of conventional meanings based on pathways determined by experience. DMT drops you into a place where the stress is on a transcending language. Language is a tool for communicating, but it fails at its own game because it's context-dependent. Everything is a system of referential metaphors. We say, "The skyline of New York is like the Himalayas, the Himalayas are like the stock market's recent performance, and that's like my moods"--a set of interlocking mnetaphors.

We have either foreground or background, either object or being. If something doesn't fall into these categories, we go into a kind of loop of cognitive dissonance. If you get something from outside the metaphorical system, it doesn't compute. That's why we need astonishment. Astonishment is the reaction of the body to the ineffectiveness of its descriptive machinery. You project your description, and it keeps coming back. Rejected. Astonishment breaks the loop.

Omni: What other experiences can you liken to the DMT trip?

McKenna: The archetype of DMT is the three-ring circus. The circus is all bright lights, ladies in spangled costumes, and wild animals. But right underneath, it's some fairly dark expression of Eros and freaks and unrootedness and mystery. DMT is the quintessence of that archetype. The drug is trying to tell us the true nature of the game: Reality is a theatrical illusion. So you want to find your way to the impresario who produces this and then discuss his next picture with him.

Omni: So the circus is really just a doorway. How does it end?

McKenna: This crazy stuff goes on for 90 seconds; then you fall away from it. They bid you farewell. In one case they said to me: "Deja vu, deja vu!"

Omni: You've devoted a good part of your life to mapping the DMT and psilocybin terrain. How would you interpret all of it?

McKenna: These drugs can dissolve in a single lightning stroke all our provisional programming. The drugs carry you back to the truth of the organism that language, conditioning, and behavior are entirely designed to mask. Once on the substance, you are reborn outside the envelope of culture and of language. You literally come naked into this new domain.

Omni: What do you say to doubters? McKenna: DMT is utterly defeating of the drug phobia. We could get rid of all drugs but DMT and psilocybin and have thrown out nothing. The fact that DMT is so brief and intense makes it look as if it's designed for doubters. Someone will say, "I can't risk five hours on a drug. It's nuts." The unspoken thing they're saying is, "My career, my life, will be ruined, so keep it away from me." But if you say to these people, "Look, you're making these statements about drugs. Can you invest ten minutes? . . ."

DMT is inhaled. The entire trip lasts that long with no after-feelings. They, fools that they are, with a naive version of linear time, think, "Well, ten minutes. How bad can that be?" Then you have them. If they won't join after that, they'll at least shut up.

Omni: Do you think there is such a thing as a bad trip?

McKenna: A trip that causes you to learn faster than you want is what most people call a bad trip. Most people try to hold back on the learning inherent in drugs. But sometimes the drug releases the information and says, "Here's what you need to know." The information may be, "You treat people wrong!" and nobody wants to hear that or, "You need a divorce!" and that can be scary or, "You have some habits you need to think seriously about," and who wants to do that?

Omni: How can you advocate drugs so strongly when such pain, disruption, and chaos may be associated with taking them?

McKenna: We should talk about the word ecstasy. In our world, ruled by Madison Avenue, ecstasy has come to mean the way you feel when you buy a Mercedes and can afford it. This is not the real meaning. Ecstasy is a complex emotion containing elements of joy, fear, terror, triumph, surrender, and empathy. What has replaced our prehistoric understanding of this complex of ecstasy now is the word comfort, a tremendously bloodless notion. Drugs are not comfortable, and anyone who thinks they are comfortable or even escapist should not toy with drugs unless they're willing to get their noses rubbed in their own stuff.

Omni: What people specifically should not take them?

McKenna: People who are mentally unstable, under enormous pressure, or operating equipment that the lives of hundreds of people depend on. Or the fragile ones among us--those to whom you wouldn't give a weekend airline ticket to Paris, those you wouldn't expect to guide you out of the Yukon. Some people have been so damaged by life that boundary dissolution is not helpful to them. These people are trying to maintain boundaries, their functionality. They should be honored and supported and not encouraged to take drugs. If because of genetic or cultural or psychological factors it's not for you, then it's not for you.

We're not asking everybody to feel that they must take drugs, but rather, just as a woman should be free to control her body, for heaven's sake, a person should also be free to control his or her mind. Everyone should be free to do it and be well informed of the option. Drug information isn't that much different from sex information. We make a gesture toward sex education in schools. And we've come a long way: We no longer make adulterers stitch large letters on the fronts of their clothing. But the issues of drugs are more complicated because there's a vast spectrum, from aspirin to heroin, and each has to be evaluated on its own strengths and weaknesses.

Omni: Would you want education on the joys of drugs in high schools?

McKenna: Absolutely, because these kids are already self-educating and informing each other through an underground body of unsanctioned, scientifically unexamined knowledge. We stand with the issues of drugs where we were with sex in the Twenties and Thirties. You learn by rumor. So people have funny ideas, knowing far more about crack than they know about mescaline or psilocybin.

Animal life has been transfused with something either willfully descended into matter or trapped by some cosmic drama. Something in an unseen dimension is acting as an attractor for our forward movement in understanding.

Omni: Attractor?

McKenna: It's a point in the future that affects us in the present. For example, if you were to do your Christmas shopping in July, then Christmas is an attractor for your summer shopping habits. Our model that everything is pushed by the past into the future, by the necessity of causality, is wrong. There are actual attractors ahead of us in timelike the gravitational field of a planet. Once you fall under an attractor's influence, your trajectory is diverted.

Omni: Does the attractor have a kind of intelligence?

McKenna: I think so. It's what we have naively built our religion around: God, totem. It's an extradimensional source of immense caring and reflection for the human enterprise.

Omni: How will science explore the after-death state?

McKenna: By sending enough people into this other dimension to satisfy themselves that this is eternity. Here the analogy of the New World holds: A few lost sailors and shipwreck victims like myself are coming back, saying, "There was no edge of the world. There was this other thing. Not death and dissolution, not sea monsters and catastrophe, but valleys, rivers, cities of gold, highways." It will be a hard thing to swallow, but then the scientists can go back to doing science on after-death states. They don't have to throw out their method.

Omni: Where is your hope?

McKenna: With psychology and young people. They have what we never had: older people who went through a psychedelic phase. I'm meeting old freaks in Berlin, London, who are mentoring this thing and trying to keep it away from what we perceive as our mistakes, mainly political confrontationalism. LSD was a direct frontal assault on society. An inspirited undergraduate in biochemistry with his roommate's $20,000 trust fund can turn out 5 to 10 million hits of this drug in a long weekend. This immediately created pyramids of criminal activity of such size and potential earning power that the government reacted as though a gun had been pointed at its head. Which it had. The proper strategy is stealth, subversion, and boring from within.

Omni: Terence, my friend, does anything scare you?

McKenna: Madness. People always ask, "Will I die on drug A, B, or C?" That's the wrong question. Of course you can die, but what is at risk is your sanity, because it seems as though the deconstruction of reality has no bottom, and you can just move out into these places. I worry about not being able to contextualize these things, losing the thread allowing me to return to the human community. We're trying to build bridges here, not just sail off.

Omni: How do you see the future?

McKenna: If history goes off endlessly into the future, it will be about scarcity, preservation of privilege, forced control of populations, the ever-more-sophisticated use of ideology to enchain and delude people. We are at the breakpoint. It's like when a woman comes to term. At a certain point, if the child is not severed from the mother and launched into its own separate existence, toxemia will set in and create a huge medical crisis.

The mushrooms said clearly, "When a species prepares to depart for the stars, the planet will be shaken to its core." All evolution has pushed for this moment, and there is no going back. What lies ahead is a dimension of such freedom and transcendence, that once in place, the idea of returning to the womb will be preposterous. We will live in the imagination. We will quickly become unrecognizable to our former selves because we're now defined by our limitations: the laws of gravity; the need to eat, excrete, and make money. We have the will to expand infinitely into pleasure, caring, attention, and connectedness. If nothing more--and it's a lot more--it's permission to hope.







Quote:

New Statesman & Society, June 25, 1993 v6 n258 p18(3)
Come fly with me. (psychedelic drugs) Paul Lashmar.
Abstract: Psychedelic drugs have the potential to enhance creativity and spirituality, but they remain illegal. Psychedelic drug designer Alexander Shulgin and ethnopharmacolgist Terence McKenna describe their views and their research.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT Statesman and Nation Publishing Company Ltd. (UK) 1993

Whatever your personal stance on psychedelic drugs, there is no denying their enormous impact on our cultural lives. For 30 years, western popular art and music has flowed with images formed by the psychedelic experience. Not just the obvious ones such as the Beatles' "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds or "Yellow Submarine", or pure psychedelic art. In some cases the references are subtle, more a sensibility than a style but,.. like homosexual symbolism in medieval religious art, once you have been initiated into the language, distinct.

Many writers, artists or musicians of the past 30 years will tell you psychedelics have played a part in their creative process. The late French philosopher Michel Foucault (the subject of three biographies to be published this year) re-evaluated his whole philosophical position after an LSD trip taken at Zabriskie Point in the 1970s. There was nothing new about this. Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge and Aldous Huxley, to name just three, used psychoactive drugs for inspiration.

Psychedelic cypher is now to be found in conventional advertising campaigns. Take the imagery of the current Dunlop tyre advert. Conscious or not, the psychedelic symbolism is there.

But it is not just artists. Since the 1960s, an extensive informal underground movement has blossomed that celebrates psychedelic drugs as a means of enlightenment or introspection rather than as a purely hedonistic activity. Large numbers of people take or have taken psychedelic drugs, with what they claim are beneficial effects.

In his 1954 book, The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley wrote of his mescaline experience: "But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less selfsatisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance, yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend."

If psychedelics have powerful creative and spiritual potential, they suffer one over-whelming drawback. They are illegal. The hysteria that surrounds the whole issue of illegal drugs has stymied any wider discussion of the value of psychedelic drugs. Nowhere are the "say no to drugs" moralists more intransigent than over psychedelics. There is something about exploring the inner world that frightens the conventional mind out of all proportion to the risk.

There is no doubt that there are risks. Using psychedefies involves risk, especially for those with a history of psychiatric problems. But there are risks in motor racing, parachuting, climbing Mount Everest, walking across the Arctic, playing football or drinking alcohol. These activities are not illegal; many are applauded. Risk is reduced by maximising safeguards. The question of our right to take risks (without hurting others) goes fight to the crux of what is individual freedom in society.

Prohibition of drugs has clearly failed. But no one will admit it. More valuable would be intelligent education on use and abuse. That is, for the moment, politically unacceptable. Legalisation is a view that only gets on TV when the director of the drug agency Release, Mike Goodman, is given a 10-minute Chan nel 4 "soapbox" spot, as he was on 7 June.

Traditional societies all over the world have used naturally occurring psychoactive plan's to enhance their spiritual and cultural sensiti vities for hundreds of years. The psilocybinrich "magic mushrooms", ayahuasca, peyote. mescaline, cohoba and yaje of the New World, the harmala, cannahis and the iboga of Africa are just a few examples. The ancient Hindu text Rig Veda tells of the ecstatic visions obtainable from the plant soma.

For hundreds of years, in these cultures. there has been some clement in the community--priest. shaman, medicine man-- who has used one plant or another to achieve a religious state of consciousness to visit the spritual world. The role of the shaman has been highly valued by these communities.

A couple of decades ago, these societies would have been written off as primitive, backward, naturally to be replaced by superior modern centre. Who now would be so arrogant? Increasingly, we look to these societies' repositories of fundamental wisdoms.

Since the 1960s. psychedelic drugs like LSD began to be used in youth culture ins spiritual and creative tools. The underground of psychedelic drug-users have their own supply network language and publications. But in a sense tiffs underground is a victim of its own effdiciency. Feeling no need for affirmationsand not wanling persecution from the wider world-- ils arguments are kept from mainstream debate. But this increases the risks because the drugs remain illicit, thus uncertain in their dosage, purity and effects, increasing the risks dramatically. If psychedelics are of creaive and spiritual value, shouldn't there he a wider debute?

To of the figures most highly regarded by this discrete world are the authors Terence McKenna and Alexander Shulgin. They have huge experience of psychedelics. Shulgin is the world's leading psychedelic drug designer, an activity he engages in legally in his home near San Francisco. Also from California, McKenna is an ethnopharmacologist and philosopher. Shulgin is more the scientist and McKenna the New Age thinker.

Although both have been vocal for many years, they have received little media coverage. In the past few months, McKenna has had more publicity for his work with the British pop band, Shamen than for all his own publications. The Shamen's 1992 single "Ebeneezer Goode", with its catch phrase "E is good", earned them notoriety for its support of the use of the drug ecstasy. (The psychedelic underground has grown dramatically from a new generation weaned on ecstasy). Shulgin and McKenna's views have a great deal in common.

"People ask me: Are you infavour of everybody using drugs?" says Shulgin. "My answer is: of course not. It's a matter of personal choice. I'm in favour of people who want to find out what the facts are. There is no point telling people to say no to drugs, because a lot of people will say yes anyway." He emphasises that his own research is conducted in very carefully controlled circumstances.

"People are afraid of psychedelics because they work. Even their critics realised they work," says McKenna. Both believe that psychedelics can provide insights into the "unfathomable mystery" which McKenna describes as "catching a glimpse of the peacock angel".

Shulgin agrees. "I want to try to get some insight into that 31b universe that lies between our ears," he says. "Our generation is the first, ever, to have made the search for self-awareness a crime, if it is done with the use of plants or chemical compounds as the means of opening psychic doors."

In his book PIHKAL (Phenetylamines I have known and loved)--A Chemical Love Story, Shulgin makes the plea for individual freedom: "Every drug, legal or illegal, provides some reward. Every drug presents some risk. And every drug can be abused. It is up to each of us to measure the reward against risk and decide what outweighs the other."

The NSS provides an opportunity for their views to be heard. Blexander Shulgin PhD, now 68, rarely ventures from his home-cum-laboratory in the hills above San Francisco. But he recently made a brief visit to London to give a talk at Neal's Yard, leading centre for New Age devotees.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of LSD, and what the chemist Albert Holmann began in the laboratories of the Sandoz Pharmaceutical company in Basle in 1943, Shulgin has continued with dedication. For more than 30 years, he has been the only person in the world to synthesise legally--and then evaluate in himself and a small group of friends--nearly 180 psychoactive compounds similar to LSD, psilocybin and mescaline. Considered the foremost expert on psychedelic drugs, he is often asked to advise the US government and law-enforcement agencies.

Meeting Shulgin, the first thing you observe is that, for a man who has taken a wider variety of psychedelic drugs than any other human being, he is in remarkably good nick. He is tall, thin and crowned with a shock of professorial white hair and beard.

For two hours, Shulgin spoke in a relaxed and lucid way, switching easily between complex chemical formulae and philosophical issues. Although an eminent pharmacologist, he is no dry empirical chemist.

"A psychedelic drug is like television," he says. "It can be very revealing, very instructive and--with care in selecting channels-- the path to extraordinary insights. But to many, psychedelic drugs are just another form of entertainment. Nothing profound is sought, so nothing profound is usually experienced. The potential of psychedelic drugs to give access to the interior universe is, I think, their most valuable property."

His book PIHKAL includes a 400-page compendium of his discoveries. When it was published in Britain last year, the tabloids branded it a DIY guide to drugs, and it was taken off the shelves.

Shulgin is in the scientist/philosopher tradition. He always gives a detailed clinical analysis, but many of his comments about his experiments are anything but technical. For 3-Thiomescaline 3, 4 Dimethoxy-5-Methylthiphenthylamine: "The compound is not poetic, I should say, does not enhance poetry, prose is much more comfortable." Or of 2, 5Dimethoxy-4-Methylthiophenethylamine: "Poetry was an easy and natural thing. Both reading of it and the writing of it."

Shulgin says a major problem with illegal drugs is that users know nothing of the purity, dose or active levels of the drugs they are taking. In 1960, he synthesised an LSD-like compound he called DOM. About eight years later, a drug called STP appeared on the streets. "It was sold as the newest psychedelic," he says. The drug agencies were alarmed by its distressing effect on many users. "I discovered STP was the same compound as DOM. The stuff on the streets was being sold in 20mg doses. We had found DOM was active at 4 to 5 mgs. After a while, street doses dropped and you didn't hear much more about STR"

I asked him how he tested new compounds. Isn't it very risky? "My usual starting point is some ten to 50 times less, by weight, than the known active level of its closest analogue. If I have any doubts, I go down by a factor of ten again. There's no completely safe procedure," he says. "Once it's been established that this initial dose has no effect at all, I increase it on alternate days to avoid accumulative effects." Shulgin then convenes his research group over a weekend in his country retreat. Despite the enthusiasm of California's numerous "acid heads" to join the group, Shulgin keeps it to a few experienced old friends. They report 'their reactions in detail for his work.

As a biochemistry graduate of the University of California, he first experimented with mescaline just after the second world war. In a research group, he took 400mgs. "It was a remarkable ten-hour experience. I concluded all that complexity of experience couldn't be built into a few molecules, so 1 reasoned that this complexity was in me and the drug just allowed things to happen."

Soon afterwards, he joined a major pharmaceutical company as a research chemist. In return for innovarive work on insecticides, he was allowed to do further work on psychedelics. Since then, he has worked his way through the structural variations of well-known pyschotropic drugs, particularly those derived from mescaline. Later, after working under contract for Nasa, he became an independent scientific consultant.

He used to conduct LD-50 tests on mice for new compounds. He dropped this, replacing it with a cautious approach to human dosage. He says some compounds exhibit toxic or convulsive tendencies. "I once took 500mgs of LSD and found myself in a very unacceptable place," he says. Shulgin rejects testing compounds on animals to discover their psychedelic capability.

Only now is he working on the structural combinations of the chemical group that includes LSD. "Some triptomines are real treasures as pyschoactive compounds. It's a virgin field for structural modification. Every time you go into the laboratory, you find a new active compound. That's an extremely interesting area. LSD isn't the most active by any means."

Shulgin says that he's a non-political scientist, but now wants to speak out on the drug laws. "The 'war on drugs' isn't a model to follow. In the US, we're moving towards a police state with less and less freedom. We have to move towards legaiisation and real education on drugs."

Terence McKenna, who is often described as the Timothy Leary of the 1990s, says: "If we are looking for the thumbprint of God on creation, to me, it must be in the human galaxy of mental activity. Consciousness is such a radical break from the rest of what is going on in organic nature that one needs to account or come to terms with it.

"The orthodox theory of evolution is very good on butterflies, corals, leaves and caribou. But in trying to figure out how, in two million years, humans have gone from being essentially troops of baboons to being members of a global electronic whole. no one has a clue."

But McKenna, 47-year-old US author, ethnopharmacologist, and proponent of mind-altering drugs, has a theory. Last year, Food of the Gods--The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge was published. Its thesis is that naturally occurring psychedelic drugs were vital in the creation of human consciousness. He believes our hunter-gatherer ancestors encountered psilocybin-rich "magic mushrooms" on their migrations across the African plains. He describes it as "the real missing link", and suggests that a diet including occasional psilocybin could have helped to develop the human brain size and mind as "a chemical binocular".

I first met McKenna at the home of New Age author Rupert Sheldrake, next to Hampstead Heath. Gnomic, with a big beard and owl eyes, he has the slightly awkward physical presence of a thin, tail and angular man. It would be easy to write off McKenna as another wacko from California. But in public, as in private, he is a compelling advocate, witty and diverse in his intellectual grounding. That evening he spoke to an enthusiastic 500-strong audience in Camden at a lecture organised by the Evolution Society.

Born in 1946, McKenna was raised in the small cattle town of Paohia in Colorado. "I was a very alarming kid, I was weird," he says. A town meeting was called to discuss whether he should be allowed to read Brave New World. "That gave me real respect for Aldous Huxley," he says. "I worked my way through his books and then came Doors of Perception. I remember following my mother round the kitchen reading it out and saying, 'Even if ten per cent of this is true, this is the biggest news ever."'

In 1965, he went to Berkeley as an art history major. There he met Barry Melton, lead guitarist of Country Joe & The Fish, who introduced him to LSD. It changed his life in more ways than one. He began a rolling agenda of research that has encompassed everything from naturally occurring psychoactive drugs to the role of the shaman in traditional societies.

In the line 1960s, he spent a spell wandering round India on the hippie trail "seeking spiritual enlightenment". He was very disappointed with the gurus he met. "I concluded that religion was just a hustle," he says. In 1971. he and his brother were living in La Chorrera, a small village in the Upper Amazon. There the natives introduced him to ayahuasca, the local hallucinogenic brew. "I found the atmosphere very different from that in India. There were no closely held secrets. There was a spirit of intellectual camaraderie and openness."

McKenna says that the ayahuasca brought him to the interface "with the memory bank of galactic history". McKenna later discovered that the active ingredient in ayahuasca is dimethyltrytamine (DMT), considered one of the more powerful psychedelic compounds. He describes the experience (which aparently only lasts about ten minutes): "It is as though one has been struck by neotic lightning. Nothing in this world can prepare you for the impressions that fill your mind when you enter the DMT sensorium." (Probably the most alarming part of McKenna's world is the personal cosmic language he uses to describe his psychedelic experiences.)

When not travelling the New Age lecture circuits, McKenna spends his time either at his home with his wife and two children in northern California or at the 19-acre Botanical Dimensions preserve in Hawaii. This non-profit organisation is dedicated to collecting and propagating medicinal and shamanic plants from the tropics.

His book Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide, co-authored with his younger brother, Dennis, has sold over 100,000 copies since it was published in 1976. McKenna's vision has extended a long way in 17 years. "I am primarily interested in the phenomenon of mind." This has led him into some unusual intellectual areas. Food of the Gods begins the theme expanded in his latest book, The Archaic Revival. He points out that, in many modern societies, some subcultures (those closely allied with the New Age movement) are seeking to return to archaic society, a time before agriculture, proto-capitalism and primogeniture.

"This is an instinctive reflex. When catastrophe seems to be imminent, it's the desire to go back to the last sane historical period. In medieval times it revealed itself in a return to classicism that had lain dormant for nearly 1,500 years. The world is facing ecological catastrophe and we need to change our minds," he says.

McKenna's bottom line is that the only way humankind can revive its spiritual relationship with the Earth is with the help of psychoactive drugs. "I am a little off-put by the thought of someone going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience. It seems to me that would be a voluntary piece of infantilism. It is part of our heritage as thinking creatures to access areas that are incredibly different from our normal areas of experience," he says.

I asked McKenna about the dangers of psychedelic drugs. He says that he advocates the use of naturally occurring psychoactive drugs. "These have been used safely for millenniums by the native peoples."

He agrees that some psychedelic experiences can be disturbing, opening up psychic "demons". "I don't advocate psychedelics because I think it is simple or easy, but because it is the only game in town. Nothing else works. If preaching worked, the Sermon on the Mount would have done the trick."





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OfflineMcKennaFan200
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2903788 - 07/18/04 11:40 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Thanks for this, I don't believe I have read this before.  :thumbup:


--------------------


"It seemed to me culture is a shabby lie. Or at least this culture is a shabby lie. If you work like a dog, you get 260 channels of bad television and a German automobile. What kind of perfection is that?"-McKenna


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Invisibletyrannicalrex
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: McKennaFan200]
    #2905204 - 07/19/04 12:57 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I used to red omni mags quite a bit,also collected heavy metal mags.


--------------------

I got some milk and cookies for you Santa!:heart::tongue:


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InvisibleChronic7
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: McKennaFan200]
    #2905207 - 07/19/04 12:59 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

thanks for this stuff, anyone know where i can get posotive stuff like this abuot shroomz, how they teach you and stuff....to show to friends too scared to try them or just doubters


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InvisibleMOTH
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2905314 - 07/19/04 01:50 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Wonderful, thanks for sharing!


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Invisiblechinacat72
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2906364 - 07/19/04 08:29 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)



--------------------
Some rise
Some fall
Some climb
To get to Terrapin!!!


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Invisiblejonneill
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: chinacat72]
    #2906602 - 07/19/04 10:17 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

McKenna is bloody crazy =]


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InvisibleChronic7
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: jonneill]
    #2907663 - 07/20/04 09:06 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

i was just gonna say, this guys lost it


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InvisibleMOTH
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: Chronic7]
    #2907673 - 07/20/04 09:13 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

chronic777 said:
i was just gonna say, this guys lost it




He's dead...

And besides, just because someone has a different way of looking at reality then what is culturally acceptable, doesn't mean that he's crazy.


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Offlineel_duderino
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2907785 - 07/20/04 10:39 AM (12 years, 4 months ago)

haha i like to entertain his ape evolution theory. It's an intresting idea. Groups of people eating mushrooms and having orgies, sounds like the place to be :thumbup: :wink: :thumbup:


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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: el_duderino]
    #2908030 - 07/20/04 12:01 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

shit i didnt realise he was dead, so i guess that tumour got him?
sounds like a rough time.........


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OfflineMcKennaFan200
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: Chronic7]
    #2908278 - 07/20/04 01:43 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Yeah, he's been dead for 4 years now. Some people say "insane", I say genius.


--------------------


"It seemed to me culture is a shabby lie. Or at least this culture is a shabby lie. If you work like a dog, you get 260 channels of bad television and a German automobile. What kind of perfection is that?"-McKenna


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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: McKennaFan200]
    #2908296 - 07/20/04 01:50 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

i did like a few of the things he said but it just seems bit muhc for most people to take in.....


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InvisibleMOTH
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: McKennaFan200]
    #2908304 - 07/20/04 01:51 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

McKennaFan200 said:
Yeah, he's been dead for 4 years now.  Some people say "insane", I say genius.




Whether you buy his theories or not, almost everyone can admit that he was a fascinating guy. 

I'm rereading Food of the Gods right now in fact.  :thumbup:


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OfflineMcKennaFan200
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: MOTH]
    #2908377 - 07/20/04 02:15 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Exactly...you don't have to take his word for "gospel", he has even said this himself. What his writing/speaking did was open people's minds to a different way of thinking with his "out-there" theories. Great man he was.


--------------------


"It seemed to me culture is a shabby lie. Or at least this culture is a shabby lie. If you work like a dog, you get 260 channels of bad television and a German automobile. What kind of perfection is that?"-McKenna


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OfflineNoviseer
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2908928 - 07/20/04 04:49 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)



--------------------
_______________________________________________________________
namaste said:
no flamz in da ODD, if you got nothing to contribute then keep yo lips zipped
_________________________________________________________________


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Invisiblechinacat72
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: McKennaFan200]
    #2909139 - 07/20/04 05:32 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

McKennaFan200 said:
Exactly...you don't have to take his word for "gospel", he has even said this himself. What his writing/speaking did was open people's minds to a different way of thinking with his "out-there" theories. Great man he was.




Exactlly.
I was lucky enough to catch him at Boulder and Big Sur in the 90's.
He was a pleasure for sure.


--------------------
Some rise
Some fall
Some climb
To get to Terrapin!!!


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OfflineTwirling
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Re: McKenna Interviews [Re: John]
    #2909343 - 07/20/04 06:29 PM (12 years, 4 months ago)

I think there are certian people which are incredibly smart, they throw ideas about in a playful manner, and try to conceive of a better understanding than we currently have, so they come across as insane. None of this necessarly means he was right in his ideas, as other people have pointed out, but that he's looking to explore those ideas.

I always enjoy reading/listening to his stuff, because even with his "far out" therioes, you can learn something.


--------------------
The very nature of experience is ineffable; it transcends cognitive thought and intellectualized analysis. To be without experience is to be without an emotional knowledge of what the experience translates into. The desire for the understanding of what life is made of is the motivation that drives us all. Without it, in fear of the experiences what life can hold is among the greatest contradictions; to live in fear of death while not being alive.



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