This is, I think, what we were always born for. It’s very clear that we are the creatures of the imagination. That—at some very early point now lost back there in the orgiastic primal African past—we moved into the domain of symbolic activity: being able to evoke for each other pictures in our heads with small mouth noises. And out of that we have woven the fabric of material civilization, which is our great accomplishment: this multi-phasic, multi-adaptable enterprise that we are involved in that is unlike anything another biological species undertakes anywhere.

from The Plot Thickens, the Stakes Rise (1994)

Portrait of Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna

Ethnobotanist, Psychonaut, and Author
November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000

Terence Kemp McKenna was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, philosophy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He was called the Timothy Leary of the nineties, one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism, and the “intellectual voice of rave culture.”

For a more comprehensive database of McKenna’s lectures and presentations, visit Ask Terence McKenna. It’s a fantastic website!


Frequently mentions:

Marshall McLuhan  27× Alfred North Whitehead  25× Mircea Eliade  19× Timothy Leary  18× Rupert Sheldrake  18× Ralph Abraham  16× Aldous Huxley  12× Hans Moravec  11× Albert Einstein  11× Ilya Prigogine  10× Ludwig Wittgenstein  10× Erich Jantsch  William James  David Bohm  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin  Herbert George Wells  Conrad Hal Waddington  Jaques Ellul 

63 Documents






Word Count


A Crisis in Consciousness

Terence argues that a solution to our collective planetary crisis has emerged, and it lies in a commitment to shamanistic, feminized, cybernetic, and caring forms of being—to take what each of us is in our very best moments and extend it to fill whole lifetimes.

A Few Conclusions About Life

A Psychedelic Point of View

Terence's closing speech after a month of being scholar-in-residence at Esalen.

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics. Recorded at the Esalen Institute in California.

Alchemical Youth on the Edge of the World

Appreciating Imagination

A workshop conducted at Esalen in 1994.

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Build Your Own Damn Wagon

Delivered at a workshop in Esalen.

Conversations on the Edge of Magic

Terence’s first workshop at Starwood Festival XIV, where he brings a unique perspective to being in the world that assumes an impending transformation of the human world involving everyone. With humor and in depth we will examine human attitudes toward the Other, time and its mysteries, the nature of language, and the techniques of ecstasy that have developed in non-Western societies to navigate to and from invisible worlds. We will discuss making reasonable choices about spiritual development and techniques. Terence explains that what he calls the “Archaic Revival” is the process of reawakening awareness of traditional attitudes toward nature, including plants and our relationship to them. The Archaic Revival spells the eventual breakup of the pattern male dominance and hierarchy bassed on animal organization, something that cannot be changed overnight by a sudden shift in collective awareness. This is a think-along experience for those who have taken a few moments to chill out from the dance of life.

Countdown Into Complexity

A weekend workshop with the alternate title “Briefing for a Descent Into Novelty.”

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

Delivered at the Whole Life Expo, Terence focuses on one of his favorite questions: what does it mean to be human in this cosmos?

Dreaming Awake at the End of Time

Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.

Ecology of Souls

Beginning with a comparison of reason and logic to intuition, Terence works his way towards exploring the idea of a purposeful goal in the universe which evolution is progressing towards, and humanity's role in this journey. Next, in a nod to the solstice which occurred at the time of the lecture, he plays with the idea of a precessional calendar and argues that it would remind us of the one constant in life, which is flux. Q&A topics include future social myths, morphogenesis, globalization, and psychedelic encounters with the dead.

Eros and the Eschaton

Delivered in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Terence points out the universe's peculiar tendency to seek out complexity and novelty, and that humanity seems to be the focal point of this process.

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Evolving Times

This evening address is one of Terence’s funniest, in which much is said about monkeys, mushrooms, plants, and people. The question and answer session gets good and lively, with his unique analysis of UFOs, governments, and possible evolutionary pathways for us and the planet.

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From Psychedelics to Cybernetics

Timothy Leary journeyed through Europe as head of the psychedelic revolution and consciousness research movement, and he invited some of his tagalong friends to this evening lecture held at the "Alte Feuerwache" in Mannheim to talk about the future evolution of humanity.

Future of Art

Global Perspectives and Psychedelic Poetics

History Ends in Green

The coming together of dream, film, and psychedelics in the twentieth century set the stage for the archaic revival. McKenna gives us a look through the window of our potential as humans. He helps put the hysteria of our time into perspective and gives a path that could help us to deal with this strange and wonderful world we live in. If you are interested in human potential then this is a must listen seminar.

Hot Concepts and Melting Edges

A weekend workshop held at Esalen, with the alternate titles of Deeper and Broader Questions and Eros, Chaos, and Meaning's Edge.

Imagination in the Light of Nature

Terence claims that “the boundless creativity of the human mind will be tapped into and come to our aid.” His bold statement is followed by an inspirational pep-talk about how miraculous the appearance of consciuosness in this universe is, and what a valuable potential humans represent in future cosmic evolution.

In the Valley of Novelty

A weekend workshop revolving around many topics, including mind's imminent conquering of matter.

Intentionality of Meaning

Interview with Erik Davis

The final recorded interview of Terence McKenna, conducted by Erik Davis for Wired magazine.

Linear Societies and Nonlinear Drugs

Delivered on the first day of the 1999 Palenque Entheobotany conference at the Chan Kha Hotel.

Man Thinks God Knows, God Knows Man Thinks

Megatripolis Opening Night

Mushrooms, Evolution, and the Millennium

Terence McKenna asks the fundamental question concerning natural hallucinogens: is it an accident of nature that certain plants and mushrooms can alter human awareness in profound ways? He argues that man and hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms have co-evolved. These botanicals provide a way for people to experience their spiritual nature, and throughout history have been used by shamans whose function is to enter altered states in order to perceive the spiritual causes behind ordinary reality. Delivered at the Masonic Temple.

Nature is the Center of the Mandala

Presented at the Shared Visions bookstore, Terence talks about humanity's path towards greater consciousness, and attempts to take a glance at what comes after the Omega Point.

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New and Old Maps of Hyperspace

Held at the Institute for the Study of Consciousness.

Opening the Doors of Creativity

Our Cyberspiritual Future

A weekend workshop held at Esalen.

Permitting Smart People to Hope

Delivered at Esalen in California.

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Plan, Plant, Planet

McKenna urges us to look at plants more deeply and find within their biological organization a model for sustainable modern civilization. Published in Whole Earth Review, issue 64.

Prague Gnosis (Part 1)

Shot on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the International Transpersonal Conference in June 1992, this two-part series features Terence McKenna in dialogue with some of the foremost thinkers of the Global Consciousness movement of the time: Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Kenneth Ring, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, David Whyte and Alexander Shulgin.

Prague Gnosis (Part 2)

Shot on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the International Transpersonal Conference in June 1992, this two-part series features Terence McKenna in dialogue with some of the foremost thinkers of the Global Consciousness movement of the time: Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Kenneth Ring, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, David Whyte and Alexander Shulgin.

Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Terence's last public appearance before falling seriously ill to brain cancer a month later. A techno-centric evening (alternately titled Shamans Among the Machines) in which he explores the inevitable merging of humanity with its AI offspring.

Rap Dancing into the Third Millennium

Terence’s second workshop at Starwood Festival XIV. The approaching new millenium, its perils, and its promise will be the theme of this intimate workshop. We will analyze and review the past thousand years with an eye to trends and opportunities that the future may bring. Western civilization is caught in a phase transition to the first planet-wide, species-wide civilization. Does the emergence of a shared set of universal values—democracy, free markets, and the dignity of the individual—have to mean the end of diversity and pluarlism? What does human self-imaging through technology portend to each of us? Is the human race down for the count, or on the brink of its greatest adventure? Psychedelics, virtual reality, and the transformative power of magic and language will be topics for discussion.

Cover image for Reawakening our Connection to the Gaian Mind

Reawakening our Connection to the Gaian Mind

Presented at the fifth annual Seeds of Change conference, titled The Bioneers.

Seeking the Stone

Delivered at the 1991 Whole Life Expo.

Shamanism, Alchemy, and the Millennium

Shedding the Monkey

Presented at the Shared Visions bookstore.

Spirituality and Technology

State of the Stone

In this talk, McKenna gives one of his more hopeful presentations about love and the state of humanity at the end of the millenium.

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Terence visited Granary Books’ exhibition of books and prints by Timothy C. Ely in July 1991, and his empathetic and eloquent understanding of Ely’s work inspired a collaboration. Philip Gallo typographically interpreted McKenna’s text, which was printed letterpress on Rives BFK. The text appears on, around, and between Ely’s original painted and drawn images, which Ely describes as “articulated glossolalia refracted from the writing.” Only 75 copies were printed.

The Birth of a New Humanity

The Edge Runner

A presentation revolving around the question: what is going on in the universe? Special emphasis is given to the human condition, the accelerating complexification of the cosmos, and options for the human collectivity as it faces the future.

The Evolution of a Psychedelic Thinker

The Evolutionary Importance of Technology

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The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable.

The Gnostic Astronaut

Presented at the Shared Visions Bookstore in Bekeley.

The Plot Thickens, the Stakes Rise

The Primacy of Direct Experience

In this, the closing session of a June 1994 workshop, Terence McKenna tells us directly what he thinks this human life is actually about: the primacy of direct experience; a focus on the present-at-hand.

The Rites of Spring

Delivered at the Ojai Foundation in California.

The Syntax of Psychedelic Time

The Winter King

This talk was recorded during the time that Terence McKenna and Sheldon Rocklin were filming the Coincidencia Oppositorum: A Union of Opposites documentary for Mysic Fire.

The World and its Double

Held at the Nature Friends Lodge.

Cover image for The World Wide Web and the Millennium

The World Wide Web and the Millennium

Seldom do we have an opportunity to test the accuracy of oracular predictions, but this fascinating conversation between two great thinkers has already proven to be right on target. Speculations include the future evolutionary development of the Internet, whether it is an embryonic intelligence, whether it will merge our minds into a planetary consciousness, or whether it is an alien brain waiting for humanity to cross an evolutionary threshold. Let the bard and the chaos theorist weave an exquisite cybernetic fantasy for you in this evening seminar.

Towards the Unknown

Understanding the Chaos at History's End

Delivered at the end of McKenna’s first month as scholar-in-residence at Esalen, when he began a new phase in his public speaking career. This weekend workshop provides an early glimpse at Terence’s description of the looming “transcendental object at the end of time,” and the psychedelic insights which led him to become an oracle.

Vertigo at History’s Edge

A lecture held at the Open Center in New York City with the subtitle “Nothing comes unannounced.”

Walking Out Of The Ordinary

What I've Learned from Psychedelics