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GSAPS Psychedelic Book Club (August 18) – True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise
August 18 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm PDT
Welcome to the GSAPS Psychedelic Book Club!
Please join us Every Third Friday of the month, from 5pm-6:30pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) | 8pm-9:30pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Featured reading for August 18, 2023
True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise
- McKenna, Terence. True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise. Harper Collins, 1994. (Amazon) (Audible)
This mesmerizing, surreal account of the bizarre adventures of Terence McKenna, his brother Dennis, and a small band of their friends, is a wild ride of exotic experience and scientific inquiry. Exploring the Amazon Basin in search of mythical shamanic hallucinogens, they encounter a host of unusual characters — including a mushroom, a flying saucer, pirate Mantids from outer space, an appearance by James and Nora Joyce in the guise of poultry, and translinguistic matter — and discover the missing link in the development of human consciousness and language.
Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated 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 ’90s”, “one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism”, and the “intellectual voice of rave culture”.
McKenna formulated a concept about the nature of time based on fractal patterns he claimed to have discovered in the I Ching, which he called novelty theory, proposing that this predicted the end of time, and a transition of consciousness in the year 2012. His promotion of novelty theory and its connection to the Maya calendar is credited as one of the factors leading to the widespread beliefs about the 2012 phenomenon. Novelty theory is considered pseudoscience.
Terence McKenna advocated the exploration of altered states of mind via the ingestion of naturally occurring psychedelic substances; for example, and in particular, as facilitated by the ingestion of high doses of psychedelic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and DMT, which he believed was the apotheosis of the psychedelic experience. He was less enthralled with synthetic drugs, stating, “I think drugs should come from the natural world and be use-tested by shamanically orientated cultures … one cannot predict the long-term effects of a drug produced in a laboratory.”
McKenna always stressed the responsible use of psychedelic plants, saying:
“Experimenters should be very careful. One must build up to the experience. These are bizarre dimensions of extraordinary power and beauty. There is no set rule to avoid being overwhelmed, but move carefully, reflect a great deal, and always try to map experiences back onto the history of the race and the philosophical and religious accomplishments of the species. All the compounds are potentially dangerous, and all compounds, at sufficient doses or repeated over time, involve risks. The library is the first place to go when looking into taking a new compound.”
He also recommended, and often spoke of taking, what he called “heroic doses”, which he defined as five grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms, taken alone, on an empty stomach, in silent darkness, and with eyes closed. He believed that when taken this way one could expect a profound visionary experience, believing it is only when “slain” by the power of the mushroom that the message becomes clear.
Although McKenna avoided giving his allegiance to any one interpretation (part of his rejection of monotheism), he was open to the idea of psychedelics as being “trans-dimensional travel”. He proposed that DMT sent one to a “parallel dimension” and that psychedelics literally enabled an individual to encounter “higher dimensional entities”, or what could be ancestors, or spirits of the Earth, saying that if you can trust your own perceptions it appears that you are entering an “ecology of souls”. McKenna also put forward the idea that psychedelics were “doorways into the Gaian mind”, suggesting that “the planet has a kind of intelligence, it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being” and that the psychedelic plants were the facilitators of this communication.
- Davis, Erik. High weirdness: Drugs, esoterica, and visionary experience in the seventies. MIT Press, 2019. (Amazon) (Audible)
- Hatsis, Thomas. The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic. Simon and Schuster, 2015. (Amazon) (Audible)
- Holland, Julie. Good chemistry: the science of connection, from soul to psychedelics. HarperCollins, 2020 (Amazon) (Audible)
- Muraresku, Brian C. The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name. St. Martin’s Press, 2020. (Amazon) (Audible)
January 19, 2024
- Leary, Timothy, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner. The psychedelic experience: A manual based on the Tibetan book of the dead. Citadel, 2022. (Amazon) (Audible)
February 16, 2024
- Shulgin, Alexander Theodore, and Ann Shulgin. PIHKAL: a chemical love story. Berkeley: Transform Press, 1995. (Amazon) (Audible)