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Terence McKenna served as the most visible expert on psychedelic culture during his time. He wrote five books – two with his brother Dennis – on his way to develop a worldwide following. Brainy, eloquent, and hilarious, McKenna applies his Irish gift of gab to making a simple case:

Going through life without trying psychedelics is like going through life without having sex. For McKenna, mushrooms and DMT do more than force up the remains of last night’s dream; they uncover the programming language of mind and cosmos.

Psychedelics are still controversial but McKenna’s lectures helped them emerge from the underground and into normal lives.

Today’s users are surgeons, bankers, physicists, computer programmers. They are productive members of society. You can’t point your finger at them and say they’ve dropped out.

– Scott O. Moore, editor of the psychedelic journal The Resonance Project

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In 1971, McKenna and his brother went to the Amazon to hunt for ayahuasca, a legendary shamanic brew. But when they arrived at the Colombian village of La Chorera that spring, what they found were fields blanketed with Stropharia cubensis, aka shrooms. Serious psychonauts knew all about the psilocybin mushroom from scholarly books on shamanism, but no one in the US was eating S. cubensis in the early ’70s because no one had figured out how to cultivate them. After returning from South America, the McKennas discovered the secret, which they promptly published. Shrooms were on the menu.

McKenna got his 15 minutes of fame when his books came out in rapid succession. Food of the Gods, published in 1992, aims directly at thinkers. In it, McKenna lays out a solid if unorthodox case that psychedelics helped kick-start human consciousness and culture, giving our mushroom-munching ancestors a leg up on rivals by enhancing their visual and linguistic capacities.

The psychedelic experience is not the equivalent of a dust bunny under your psychic bed.

It’s a product of the fractal laws that govern the world at an informational level. There is no deeper truth.

– Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna’s Last Trip | WIRED