Ethnobotany of Shamanism, a 3 day weekend workshop at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco featuring Terence McKenna. Includes the introductory lecture on Friday. Originally recorded November 4th – 6th 1988.
From: The Psychedelic Salon [Subscribe]
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Courtesy of Miguel Fernandes
All quotations are by Terence McKenna
"Most software, I think, is written by freaks."
"What it [investigating psychedelics] really requires is a love of the peculiar, of the weird, the bizarre, the étrange, the freaky and unimaginable."
"Nature and the imagination seem to be the precursors to involvement in the psychedelic experience."
"DMT seems to argue, convincingly I might add, that the world is made entirely of something, for want of a better word, we would have to call magic."
"By manipulating queuing, by manipulating expectation, you can lead people to a fundamental confrontation, not only with themselves, but with the Other."
"What I’m talking about is actually is the Mystery of Being as existential fact. That there is something that haunts this world that can take apart and reduce every single one of us to a mixture of terror and ecstasy, fear and trembling. It is not an idea, that’s the primary thing to bear in mind. It’s an experience."
"Our theories are the weakest part of what we say. What we’re working from is the fact of an experience which we need to make sense of."
"What we call three dimensional space, and what we call the imagination actually have a contiguous and continuous transformation from one into the other, … and THIS is big news!"
"If you play the cultural game, it’s like playing only with clubs or something, or playing only with the red marked cards. You have to play with a full deck, and that includes this pre-linguistic surround in which we are embedded."
"Ultimately, I think, what the psychedelic experience may be is a higher topological manifold of temporality."
"The mind is the cutting edge of the evolving event system."
"I think the cybernetic matrix is a tremendous tool for feminizing, and radicalizing, and psychedelicizing the social matrix. I see computers as entirely feminine."
"The ‘person’ is not an interchangeable part. The ‘citizen’ is. … The person is harking back to a pre-print model. It’s what the hippies were."
"What people notice about [when they are on] LSD is either what’s right or wrong with themselves or how freaky the world is."
"It’s as important to be well informed in this area, if you’re going to do it, as it is to be well informed about procedures in skin diving and that sort of thing if you’re going to do that."
"One of the things that’s so striking about shamanism in the native context is the absence of mental illness."
"Every step into freedom contains within it the potential for greater bondage."
"This is what I talked about last night about the archaic revival as the notion of making a sharp left turn away from the momentum that the historical vehicle wants to follow."
"We now have no choice in the matter of business as usual. There will not, apparently, be business as usual."
"You either have a plan, or you are a part of somebody else’s plan."
"The psychedelic sets you at the beginning of the path, and then people do all kinds of things with it."
"We are reaping the fruits of ten thousand, fifty thousand years of sowing of the fields of mind. And it is being dropped into our laps for us to create human-machine interfacing, control of genetic material, redefinition of social reality, re engineering of languages, revisioning of the planetary ecology, all these things fall upon us."
"I’m fascinated by hallucinations. I mean, to me that is the sina qua non that you’re getting somewhere."
"If you actually look at the etymology of the word ‘hallucination’, what it’s come to mean in English is a delusion. But what it really means in the original language is to wander in the mind. That’s the meaning of ‘hallucination’, to wander in the mind."
"For unknown reasons, there is a tremendous concentration of psychoactive plants on the South American continent. The South American continent has more known hallucinogens than the rest of the planet combined."
"Patanjali specifically says that there are three paths to the goal of yoga. And they are, control of the breath, control of posture, and light-filled herbs. It says it right there. Stanza 6 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali."
"Think about this for a moment, we grow so inured to these religious forms, think about the notion of instituting at the center of your religion a rite where you eat your god. ... [This] is probably a memory of a relationship to some kind of a psychedelic experience of some sort."
"I think institutions will inevitably substitute a rite or a ritual for the authentic, for the real McCoy, because then priests can control the pipeline to god, and the parishioner can approach with offerings. But if everybody can have a pipeline to deity, why then the whole priest scam is put out of business."
"Buddhism is a heresy on Hinduism."
"The whole of the Amazonian narcotic complex, as it’s called in the old literature, is based on activation of DMT by one strategy or another."
"I really think there is a very large distinction between synthetic and naturally occurring drugs. … I think that these plants ‘take people’ as much as people take the plants. … When you take one of these ancient, ancient hallucinogens you are locking in to the morphogenic fields of all the people who ever took it."
"All psychedelic explorers should be aware of the concept of what is called a cognitive hallucination. The is a much more insidious phenomenon. This is, quite simply, an out-and-out delusion."
"People are concrescences of ambiguity."
"I think the sitter should be there only if there’s a three dimensional emergency."
"I have never felt that the primary use of these things [psychedelic medicines] was to cure what is called in modern parlance neurosis, what I call unhappiness. It isn’t for that."
"Ayahuasca, in a way, is somehow more open to suggestion. These other things have their own agenda. Ayahuasca will work with you."
"The possibility seems to be that what we call styles, or what we call motifs, are actually categories in the unconscious." [Also see The Art of Steven Rooke.]
"Is there a necessary succession in style, or are these things pure chance?"
"Obviously, it’s some kind of freely commanded modality in the psyche with which we can have a relationship if we will but evolve a control language and a dialogue. And it remains mysterious."
"The psychedelic experience is the beginning of the spiritual path. That’s why it’s not important that yogas’ claim that they can deliver you the psychedelic experience, because it begins with the psychedelic experience, and then you go from there."
"Once you come face-to-face with these psychedelics, the trail ends. You have found the answer. … Now the question is, ‘What the hell do you do with it?’ "
"Once you have the psychedelic tool in hand then some real choices have to be made."
"It puts people who are into this psychedelic thing in an entirely different stance from all other spiritual seekers, because all other spiritual seekers are furiously seeking. Psychedelic people are holding it back with all their power, because they are IN the presence of the Mystery. And then the trick is to get a spigot on it so that it can be turned on and off rather than coming at you like a tidal wave a mile high and twenty miles wide."
"What the churches are peddling is high abstraction, and you really have to work yourself up into a lather to be able to accept that as worthy of that kind of attention. The psychedelic subset of society is into an experience, and it’s accessible."
"The race isn’t to the swift. It’s to the thoughtful."
"There will be difficult moments in a five-gram [mushroom] trip, but on the other hand certain questions will be solved forever for you, because you will validate the existence of this dimension. You will see what your relationship to it is."
"This is a general comment that you should take a committed dose of whatever it is you’re taking so that there is no ambiguity, because there’s nothing worse than a sub-threshold psychedelic experience."
"On ketemine you can get so out there that it is a major intellectual breakthrough to realize that you’re on a drug."
"At the interface of the sayable and the unsayable [in a psychedelic experience] is the novel, the new, the never before seen, said or done. And that’s what I think it’s important to try and bring out, ideas. Because I think we are the animals that bring back ideas."
"Human populations that do not have contact with the psychedelic tremendum are neurotic because they are male ego dominated."
"One way of assessing the toxicity of a drug is how do you feel the next day?"
"If you eat before you sleep after a trip, it won’t be nearly so hard a come-down."
"DMT is the most powerful hallucinogen there is. If it gets stronger than that I don’t want to know about it."