Terence McKenna Had a Bad Trip in the Late 80’s and Never Took Mushrooms Again

Terence_cosmo-codeAll I can say is wow, and of course the way I stumbled upon this fun little nugget of information had to do with listening to synchronous inner wisdom. So a couple weeks back I had a dream where it felt like I was watching a film about Terence’s final days. The details aren’t super relevant here, but what’s compelling is that at one point, my mind-camera focused in on his face and you could see it in him. The mushrooms killed him. He’d gone way too far on that front, and somehow, in this alternate dream world, this was evident to me solely from his appearance. I picked up on it immediately and it was the main thing I took away from the dream. Anyway, I posted this on Facebook (like my new page if you want to see this sort of shit in your feed), and one of my fans pointed out to me that Terence did in fact stop taking mushrooms nearly 12 years before he died because of a horrifying trip.

What’s hilarious on that front is, much like when I found out Carlos Casteneda was a super creep or when I realized that Aleister Crowley was roughly the biggest douchebag ever, I remembered that I’d stumbled upon the exact same story months earlier but dismissed it because I couldn’t find anything concrete. I guess a part of me just didn’t want to believe, and so I didn’t bother to follow up. But, you know, one of my fans did and it totally checks out. From his brother Dennis’ book which you should absolutely buy:

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.

As for credible sources, I can’t think of what his brother would be seeking to gain by making this up. What’s funny is that I actually listened to several podcasts he did promoting the book and he never even mentioned this as a selling point (although I haven’t actually read the book yet, which I am now going to bump to the top of my reading list). Apparently the bad trip can be confirmed by his wife as well, not that I’ve checked. Anyway, here’s an amazing podcast from the Psychedelic Salon about the whole thing that I highly recommend.

Does this make me think any less of Terence? No actually, but it certainly confirms what my dream was trying to tell me and what I’ve been saying forever. You can in fact go way too far with psychedelics. If you don’t learn what you’re supposed to from these hyper-dimensional weirdos, they’ll freaking turn on you. Sometimes these lessons can be brutal. Hell, the essay I wrote in Graham Hancock’s book, Divine Spark, is about that very topic. The tumor that ended up manifesting itself in Terence’s brain leading to his death oh so conveniently took the shape of a mushroom apparently. There was obviously a lesson there that he either refused to or was simply emotionally incapable of learning.

In a way it’s all very sad, but not unlike a musician forced to play their one hit album ad nauseam until the end of eternity to make a buck. The problem was capitalism, not Terence. He had a schtick that people dug, myself included, but it just so happened to not be the whole picture. I got into Terence probably around early ’96 and was lucky enough to see him speak before he died. It’s sort of mind blowing to think that during this entire period the guy was secretly terrified of taking his own public advice. The thing about Terence though, is that the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that his societal criticism is more on point than ever. It’s rare that I find myself disagreeing with the dude at all on that front. He’s an endless source of inspiration to me in that regard and I’ll forever be in his debt.

Also, when I saw him speak, he went on and on about his love of ganj-i-tation, which I just so happened to write a book about (that you can buy super cheap, just saying and I know you’re sick of hearing about it by now). I never see anyone point that out about the guy. All in all, I think this information is important, which is why I’m posting it. We’re so prone as a culture to think of psychedelics as pleasurable escapism like every other recreational drug, when there’s so very much more to them than that. The failure of the modern psychedelic movement is now and has always been the failure to take shamanism seriously. Hey, come to my transformational arts festival. Sorry, had to. In the information age, it’s become increasingly important to learn from the mistakes of the mystics and sorcerers of the past. They failed so that we can potentially ascend and the second we forget that, we’re doomed to the same fate. Think on it tripsters.

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Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken