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.


For quite some time, I’ve been collecting thoughts.

I’m sure it began when I was a child and read Genesis 6:3-5

3Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

I read that passage and was intrigued that the earliest chapters of Genesis, closest to the creation of man, there was a description of a people who were “heroes of old.” I grasped that something in that passaged pointed to a deeper, more ancient secret that lay covered over. This idea persisted with me for some time, though no one I asked about it had a satisfying answer, until I happened upon a book when I was around 20 years old.

I was randomly exploring categories in my small public library when a book on the shelf caught my eye. It was Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock. I think I was struck by the title, its solid girth upon the shelf, and the striking gold letters on a black spine. I devoured Graham’s account of a historically aberrant map of Antarctica. The Piri Reis Map made, long before the continent’s discovery, allegedly shows the continent in a compelling way. I absolutely devoured the book and found compelling information about Nephilim, early civilization, and alternate theories of history. At that moment, I began to collect ideas.

I began to follow my interests along their own meandering course. For some time it was the interest in ancient megalithic construction and connectedness of early civilizations. I began looking into the paranormal; angels, demons, ghosts, and aliens. Then my interests moved to more concrete things like raising rabbits and collecting coins, followed by a jaunt into the world of literature, counter-culture, consciousness, hallucinogens, etc, etc.

This thought collection expands almost daily. I make unexpected connections between most of these topics and need to chronicle their Genesis. I needed some shelves to put these books on for easy reference.

My blog is an attempt to organize the chaos of this elemental synthesis, so I can crystalize some meaning. My attempts will be rife with exploration and error as stream-of-consciousness usually is. But organization will manifest.