An Obscure Synchronicity: Nathan Drake, Terence McKenna, John Dee, and House, M.D.

Nathan Drake, Terence McKenna, John Dee, House M.D.

Nathan Drake                               Terence McKenna                             John Dee                                           House M.D.

I have been keeping an eye on synchronous patterns for some time. I get immense satisfaction from seeing unexpected connections. I am filled with a sense of amusement at the force behind these impossible coincidences. I just experienced one of these strange connections between two obscure terms, “John Dee” and “ergot.” Here is how it came about:

Just the other day I was playing a video game I recently acquired called, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The game stars Nathan Drake, an Indiana-Jones-type adventurer with a knack for obscure history. In the chapter I was playing through, Nathan Drake gave a brief history lesson about a 16th century inventor named John Dee. I had never heard of Dee and passively noted from the dialogue that he was an inventor of sorts who worked with English royalty.

It was later the next day that I began listening to a Terence McKenna lecture for the first time entitled, Hermeticism & Alchemy. In this lecture, McKenna describes the Alchemical scene in England during the 16th century. He launched into a detailed account of John Dee’s activity in Alchemy and the occult. As he spoke about Dee, my mind raced to recall where I had heard of this guy and quickly remembered the video game’s account of him from the night before. I was amused at the coincidence of running into John Dee’s biography twice in 24 hours from two very different sources. But it was nothing compared to my surprise at the subsequent synchronicity which immediately followed.

As the lecture continued, McKenna talked about a curious substance called ergot. Ergot, he explained, is a type of fungal infestation which grows on improperly stored grain or corn. It appears as a stinky, black goo which drips down the plant and ruins crops. Ergot, as McKenna recounted, was possibly consumed for its hallucinogenic properties during Dee’s time, but it is also highly toxic. I was very amused by this new information and was shocked when less than 4 hours later, this obscure topic came to me through another bizarre coincidence.

That evening, after listening to the McKenna Lecture, I turned on one of my favorite TV shows, House M.D.  Season 4, Episode 4 entitled “Guardian Angels” featured a young woman suffering from hallucinations. After several failed diagnoses, the light of revelation dawned upon Dr. House and dawned upon myself simultaneously… ergot poisoning! I chuckled under my breath as I listened to Dr. House rattle off a similar rap to that of Terence McKenna about how ergot grows and its effects after consumption.

So there it was in a little over 24 hours… Nathan Drake presented John Dee, Terence McKenna presented John Dee and ergot, Dr. House presented ergot. Strange little sandwich.

What does it mean? Who knows! Ten years ago, my younger, more zealous and insecure self would have prayed fervently, fasted, and searched the Bible trying to get the message God was shouting through the light-years of cotton filling the space between His voice and my ears. But I have settled into a great deal more security in my relationship with Him. I feel I know more of His character now. He’s a bit of a trickster. If anything, I take this incredibly unlikely pair of coincidences as a sign that He’s listening. He is interested in my interests. And He weaves his signature through my life as a reminder of that.

I take it as a sign that God is looking over my shoulder, reading along with me in this book of my life.


If you are interested in hearing Terence McKenna’s account of John Dee and ergot, I think most of it is in the first two hours of the video below.

Seeking Drugs

I pulled up to the gas station in the early afternoon. I parked right out front. I saw the two female attendants tucked away on the other side of the ice machine. They stood about 5 feet apart, turned away from each other. No doubt they were grasping at the the tiny scrap of privacy they get during the day; a shared lunch break. With their backs to each other and cigarettes dangling from pursed lips, one woman looked like a reflection of other. Both wore jeans, both smoked long, drooping cigarettes, and both stood hunched over something. The mirror image was intensified by a furious hand-scribbling motion both were making in their palms. Their heads bent close to their hands as they furiously raked at the silvery surface of the lottery tickets. Like digging for treasure under the sand.

I stared at these two women, using their precious few moments of privacy in identical ways. Both sucking at cigarettes and ravaging scratch-offs, looking for a fix. I wondered if they realized there was no hope of winning. How many tickets on how many lunch breaks and how many cigarettes had been obliterated on this daily dig? A lot probably. A lot betrays importance. Importance on a daily basis. If it is so important to seek that fix for these two women, how about any other two women? What about myself? What about humanity? Do animals seek a fix? Cows do nothing but munch grass and nap all day. Are they content?

I went into the convenience store for my intended purpose. I was looking for a soda. Nothing particular. I knew I wanted caffeine though. I smirked at my recognition of that desire. I grabbed a soda then stood in front of the chewing gum section for five minutes debating which gum to buy. I looked at several packages, read ingredients, debated about why anyone would buy tangerine-flavored gum. I could not decide which would be the most magic flavor for the moment. I stopped and smirked again at that recognition, then left the aisle with only my soda. I paid and got back in my vehicle. The attendants had returned to their busy day.

I pondered the issue. Drugs are ubiquitous if I define a drug as a method of attending to the soul’s hunger. Scratch-off tickets, cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine are the usual whipping boys. Work, education, sex, spirituality, roller coasters, hiking: these are all methods of attending to the soul’s hunger. This begged some very important questions about which I only have conjecture.

Why are souls so hungry?

Are all or most souls hungry or is it a phenomenon that only I and a few others happen to experience?

What makes a drug good or bad?

Should the use of good drugs be embraced or scorned?

What would life look like for me if I never hungered?

How much of my life is spent looking for drugs?

Did God make this hunger?

What do I do with it?

I am nowhere near depressed and have never used an illegal drug in my life. I don’t think I have even seen a real joint in person. But I was looking for caffeine this morning. I have purchased scratch-offs in the past. I smoke occasionally and like a few beers. I sit and ponder these questions when i could be doing anything else. I study and i dig. I dig into ideas like those attendants dig into their pile of tickets hoping to uncover the elusive reward; a treasure that will end in completion.

Review: True Hallucinations by Terence McKenna

I recently finished listening to Terence McKenna’s audio recording of his book True Hallucinations. The book chronicles his quest in the Amazon for an encounter with shamanic substances, the ensuing weeks of psychedelic investigation, and the culmination of that quest into a theory of time, space, and consciousness.

The structure of the book was a bit unexpected. The first half presents itself as a stream of consciousness memoir, while the second half constructs McKenna’s philosophies in the style of a free-flowing lecture. Both halves follow a similar undulating pattern of thought. Memories jump through time quite frequently in the first half. Some loosely-organized recollections from a much more previous timeline insert themselves and persist at great length. This disrupts the time setting for the listener an seems appropriate considering the subject matter. I got the sense that I was not just listening to a description of what happened to Terence, but that I was experiencing what his mind was like at that time. This same effect manifests in the more philosophical second half of the book. This time the structure Terence uses to build his varying theories jumps from idea to idea as apposed to jumping time as in the first half. For a time he discusses the UFO, then his time-wave theory in a seemingly unrelated way, then he discusses Jung. I really got a sense of how Terence’s mind makes connections and that seems fitting to this book.

I recently watched an interview in which Terence stated something to the effect that he felt his purpose in lecturing was to encourage people to experiment with psychedelics and that his purpose was to show people that these things won’t hurt them. This is his admitted agenda in the lectures. So I was struck by some key details in the book that I quickly recognized would have fallen on the floor of the editing room for his lectures. This book sheds some light on some key revelations that are usually left out of Terence’s lectures; some of which are his sexual practices, the intensity and frequency of his tripping, schizophrenic episodes, and the UFO.

The first great exclamation point i experienced involved the recollection of a DMT-augmented LSD trip with a complete stranger and their resultant sexual foray. At the height of an LSD trip, Terence took four lungfuls of DMT. From my understanding, this is a bit like chugging a 6-pack on an empty stomach then as the effects set in, downing a 1/2 liter of scotch. The trip and uncomfortable account of sex did not resemble the philosophical thinker and psychonaut presented in the lectures. This was a man willing to dispose of his own life and mind in the same mental state as someone spinning the chamber, pointing the barrel to his head an saying, “lets see what happens.” Reckless, irresponsible, and banal.***

Another point driven home by the book, yet gapingly absent from the lectures, is that danger lurks in these substances. Terence’s brother Dennis performs a bizarre “experiment” which sends him into a month-long madness in a remote jungle village.

My Thoughts
I keep trying to put my finger on what bothered me about this book, and Terrance in general. It seems to me that Terence had at least two faces: one reflected on the pages of his book, and the other he wore in public. The distinction between the two is that his public face explains no harm, no danger, and indeed expounds on the great benefits of consuming psychedelics. It is a misrepresentation of his know truth. That ruined the pathos of the man for me. Some of Terence’s ideas astonished me in their insight. For that, he deserves credit. But the man’s character is severely lacking. And that matters to me.

***EDIT June 20th. I recently listened to one of McKenna’s talks where he refers to this LSD/DMT combo practice (Hermeticism & Alchemy at 1:44:00). He talks about it as something he used to do in his youth. He insinuates that he does not do it any more, said it was “turbo-charged nuts,” and advises, “don’t try this at home, folks.”

Some Additional Terence McKenna Media

Terence’s biting critique of Relativism. I find this the most eloquent, unexpected, and compelling arguments against Relativism.

Terence expounds on his transhumanist utopia and is subsequently ripped a new one by his buddies. This video is incredibly amusing on so many levels. It shows Terence back on his heels, but his incredible gravitas shines through nonetheless.

One of Terence’s last interviews. He had already been through the gamma knife brain surgery and was living out his last days.

Psychedelia: Raw Archives of Terence McKenna Talks


Thanks to Healing Oils of the Bible by David Stewart, Ph. D., I have a better grasp on the construction of oleo-gum-resins. Most of what follows is from his book pp 11-13.

Oleo-gum-resin behaves like the blood of a plant. It circulates the nutrients in conjunction with osmosis. Oleo-gum-resins are usually extracted from a tree by making incisions and letting the OGR bleed out, or by tapping the tree as with maple sap. So in trees, the sap is basically the OGR.

This is the fat-soluble part of the OGR. It is what gets extracted for use in essential oils. Oleo is a very small component of the OGR mixture. In the case of Commiphora Myrrha (myrrh) and Boswellia Carteri (frankincense), the oleo or essential oil is only about 4% to 8% of the raw material. Oleo can be extracted by distillation resulting in an essential oil on one end and hydrosols or essential waters on the other end.

This is the water-soluble part of the OGR. It accounts for the largest part of the raw material at around 60%. Gum can be extracted by soaking or boiling. According to Stewart, “Gums contain the sugar, carbohydrate, amino acid, and protein portions of the plant” (12).

Resin is the alcohol-soluble part of the OGR. Resin accounts for around 35% of the OGR. It can be extracted by soaking in alcohol to make a tincture. Myrrh resin was combined with wine to create a common narcotic use by the Romans. This is what was offered to Jesus on the cross. A great tutorial on making a myrrh tincture can be found here (although eastbae recommends one week, i have seen others recommend at least four).

I plan to investigate the raw OGR, tinctures/resin extracts, and gum waters. I think distilling out oils an hydrosols presents more challenges than i want to deal with at this stage.