Podcast 319 – “The Voynich Manuscript”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


“Well, certainly the Voynich Manuscript is the ‘limit text’ of Western occultism. No one can read it. It is truly an occult book.” -Terence McKenna

According to Wikipedia, the Voynich Manuscript has been described as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript”, and so far it’s secret code has never been broken . . . including attempts by top U.S. Government cytologists. And this is the subject of today’s talk by Terence McKenna from an April 1983 lecture.


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Posted in Alchemy, Books, Imagination, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. I could have _sworn_ that I’d heard–and have somewhere in my collection–a talk from TM about Voynich where he unmasks the Manuscript as a coded Cathar’s bible or some such… no one else remembers this? It was like… “solved” as far as he was concerned… and I recall him indicting same in more than one place, too! Anyone?

  2. Hey lorenzo. This is my first contact with you but I have been listening forever. I really enjoy what you do, you are always sensible with your decisions in my opinion. I was really intrigued about the Mckenna hype and to be Honest his words have lead me on my own personal experiences that I would of never had if it weren’t for him. So if he is putting on a bit of a show, this episode is him just telling stories about things I have no idea bout. Its sort of just story time. I like his concept of only believing your past experiences because everything you hear or read could be a lie.

    Lorenzo, if you feel like writing write!

  3. Wikipedia is never a reliable source of information about anything, since it is composed of thousands of opinions put there by people who may or may not know what they are talking about. When you are reading something on WP, how do you know if it’s true rather than something some WP editor wants you to believe? You don’t, unless you know the subject yourself or you have a reliable source of knowledge, such as a real encyclopedia.

    The best website regarding the Voynich Manuscript is here:

  4. Lorenzo – I’m sorry to hear of your recent difficulties related to podcast 316…as luck would have it, I do have it and now will listen to it twice as hard. Censorship of any stripe is always self-defeating. I was first introduced to Terence on your podcast – not that long ago – and he, along with a slew of other personages (Bob Wilson, Bruce Damer, John Fadiman, Shulgin, Zoe 7, the trialogues, davis etc.) along with your awesome “OCCUPY” updates have had a HUGE influence on me. The ideas brought forth (and the spirit that shines through) in these podcasts have given me some of the only hope I’ve had recently. I think taking things for granted is something we human can’t help but do. I know I do. Thus, I just wanted you to know Lorenzo, how much I’ve appreciated your work, how important it has been to me and how grateful I am that you are your courageous self!!! Marcus Vaughter

  5. long time listener, first time poster. lorenzo, sorry to hear the weight of repetition and threatened litigation have made you question whether you want to keep up with the pSalon. i hope you decide to do what will best help you articulate what you feel your contributions to the community are, but i have to say, this podcast more than anything else has given me foundations for beliefs, role models in a community i never knew existed, and brain candy the likes of which I find hard to come by in modern times, not that i’ve lived in any other…just wanted to say thanks for what you’ve been doing and i hope you find peace in all this mess!

  6. yes! the codex seraphinianus is a must read! I’ve always been fascinated by the correlation between the two

  7. thanks again for another beautiful podcast Lorenzo!
    Who would’ve thought that your ‘deep dive’ podcast would cause so much wind, I sure didn’t.
    I think the podcast never lost it’s respect and love for Terence (a part from some stupid comments off course), and honestly I don’t see why the Mckenna family objects to any of the revelations that were spread by Dennis. But that is none of my business….

    After reading the wiki article you posted, I now know where Luigi Serafini got his inspiration to make the CODEX SERAPHINIANUS. People who don’t know it should check it out:

    There is a link somewhere on the net, a pdf file of the complete book.

  8. Keep up the good work!

    I really appreciate the gift you are giving to the future.

    All the best,


  9. @swam rollbre

    Collective UNconscious. Sorry, it always get me when people say subconscious. 🙂


    Man, I’m sorry you have to put up with so much shit from some of these snobby emailers. What especially astonishes me about these ridiculous people is that they expect something from you, and something that is specifically curtailed to their wishes, yet, do they have to pay to listen to these podcasts? No. You do it for free, and out of love, so who gives a damn if a certain podcast is found somewhere else on the web? I certainly don’t. It’s high quality material, unknown to a lot of us, presented in a friendly, communal environment in which discussion can be pursued and good vibes shared. It seems to me that if they really care so much that a certain podcast can be found somewhere else deep in the web, then they should go and sit in that little corner of the web and stop polluting the Salon with their negative vibes. Ugh.

    I’m sorry you’re getting all this hate mail my friend, because what you deserve is everyone’s utmost respect, love, gratitude, and positive vibes for all the brilliant work you’re doing to help us find the Others.

    Peace, Love, and Light to you my friend.

  10. Donation coming – and thank you Lorenzo for keeping the Salon going.

    I think of Podcast 316 as:

    “For Damer so loved McKenna . . .”

    – I thought it was respectful and full of love for the man and his legacy. I am glad I kept a copy.

  11. Looks like a book on plants. Pretty wierd looking, though. Are they terrestrial?

    The language, whatever it is, is absolutely beautiful! Almost looks like there are patterns in there.

    The drawings of the naked ladies are halarious! It’s almost like a “How-To” book on bathing and washing!

    Overall, at a MINIMUM it’s a beautiful work of art.

    Peace To All

  12. Bless you big L for all your work, I’ll be sending in a donation soon and encourage others to do the same…especially after hearing about these latest issues. I just can’t thank you enough for providing me with this resource that has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I really appreciate your willingness to continue through the grey areas, and am saddened that there may be some unreleased talks that may not see the light of day, but I hope one way or another we will have access to the full collection. cheers

  13. Hey Lorenzo:

    Thanks very much for staying the course with the Psychedelic Salon. I’ve been a silent lurker/enthusiast for over a year and continue to be inspired by these podcasts (McKenna mainly, but a few others). As an intellectual, McKenna’s erudition was indeed unique with one foot deep in the Western canon of literature, philosophy, history, and culture, and the other foot, just as deep, in the experience of shamanic dreamtime. Further, it’s clear to me that the Bard McKenna himself was very interested in the virus-like nature of language and has referred several times in his talks, with satisfaction it seems to me, that many of his memes were “out there” in the populace, circulating. So thanks for helping Terence fulfill his own vision.

    Check out the book “Common as Air” by Lewis Hyde which makes a strong case against the copyright neurosis/privatization of knowledge movements sweeping the land. From Hyde’s website: “Hyde’s most recent book, Common as Air, is a spirited defense of our “cultural commons,” that vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to enrich in the present.”


    I hope to make a $$$ contribution in the near future to help support your good work…

    palm to palm,


  14. Terrence McKenna should not be judged by how many times he may have used a particular substance.

    He only maintained that at least one experience should be considered for evaluation.

    As Alan Watts has said, ‘once you receive a message from a telephone, you need only put back the telephone to its location’ the idea how many times you need to receive the message is not an absolute.

    It is a sad day when Terrence McKenna is considered as just another commodity to traded or bought and sold in the ‘Free Market System’.

  15. thanks so much for not succumbing to the pressures of bullshit.
    So what if these works can be found elsewhere? Redundancy in data ensures its survival.
    Terence was always talking about various metaphoric iterations of “holographic redundancy”, whether in descriptions of the collective subconscious, the ontological characteristics of the lapis philosophorum, principles of quantum theory, or even the human brain itself. – From True Hallucinations –

    “Dennis felt confident that the brain operates on the principle of a hologram. This was an idea originated by Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist at Stanford…It neatly explains the fact that a large percentage of the physical brain can be damaged or removed with no impairment of memory, since a portion of a hologram contains all the information embedded in the larger whole from which it has been taken.”

    It seems fitting that collections of this bard’s ideas should be reduplicated all over the net 🙂

  16. Lorenzo, and others interested in the similarities and differences between alchemy and shamanism, if you search “Alchemy and Shamanism” @ youtube, you’ll find a video of Michael Horner interviewing, or more like conversing, at length with the great Ralph Metzner on this very topic.

    This may be an awfully obvious reference, but Terence also has an essay with this podcast’s very title, found in The Archaic Revival, in case someone wants to keep digging. While the essay doesn’t give you anything especially novel, in light of this podcast, it does give you more detail and precision.

    Thanks for keeping the salon afloat amidst troubled waters Lorenzo!

  17. Available as PDF here: http://ia700305.us.archive.org/6/items/TheVoynichManuscript/Voynich_Manuscript.pdf

    This is beyond fascinating. The big question is: why are the page numbers written using Arabic numerals? Were they added after the fact by successive owners of the manuscript or are they part of the original manuscript?

    Also, have a look at the “astrological” section. Do you see what I see? Those are maps of spiral galaxies!

    Where the heck did this information come from????

  18. There’s nothing quite like a good dose of truth for revealing the ego motives of the “No Sayers” – and thanks Lorenzo for your constancy in standing on the side of truthfulness.

    In my long and foolish life I’ve learned that what is almost always at the root of discordancy is, yes, MONEY!

  19. you know… I think that the purpose of all this might be that now, between Denis and the family, whoever was backing the option of “going all out” and telling people about McKenna’s stance in his last years has the compelling argument of forty-some comments about people who felt very sympatetic about it all.

    Let’s hope we can know the full story, because that would only make McKenna ever bigger, now that he’s back into being informational only.

    Love the Salon, love McKenna, love Lorenzo for providing the services; whish you all very well.

  20. I feel badly that this controversy has caused Dennis and the rest of the Mckenna family any discomfort. On the other hand, I hope that the final version of the book won’t be too heavily whitewashed and edited. In principle, what goes in the book should be at the discretion of he and his family. But this book was made possible by the donation of thousands of dollars from many people who were promised the full truth and a story they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. To remove anything considered controversial or personal at this late date would be a disservice to the contributors. If it weren’t for the donations I’d say hey, it’s your book, write whatever you want. But either give people what they paid for or give the money back. In any case I hope someone writes an exhaustive biography of Terence soon.

  21. I’ve always been fascinated by this manuscript and so was of course thrilled to come across a lecture on it by Terence. Funny how after all these years nobody comes close to giving an accurate translation.

  22. Dear Fellow Saloners! Hope you are all well. Thanks again Lorenzo, for all the great content you’ve provided for us. Lorenzo, without your relentless collecting and podcasting of Terence McKenna’s lectures, easy access to his life’s work might have been endangered. Yeah, a lot of stuff is available online if someone wants to spend hours digging, but you’ve assembled what is probably the largest and highest quality collection of McKenna talks. We certainly haven’t seen anyone else doing this work. In my mind, you are solely responsible for securing McKenna’s presence in the digital age. I’ll bet that sales of his copyrighted materials, from which his family profits, have increased as a result of your Podcasts. Dennis’ Kickstart got money from me, only because you let me know it was happening. Your present listeners, the McKenna family and countless future explorers and thinkers owe you a debt of gratitude.

  23. Hi, Does anyone know about an excellent Leary lecture I would love to hear again: he mentions that more people know Bill Cosby than their own neighbors, and that Bush exist only as “an electron cluster” on his television set. I thought it was amusing and informative. It would be excellent if it could get posted here. Thanks.

  24. Obs, photos didn’t work, I’m very silly with computers. The cosmological one is number 86v, the only one with sextuple-folio folding leaves in the entire manuscript. The other one is number 16r. The numbers refer to the series of photos found in the link I posted in my first comment. Sorry for eating so much commentary space!

  25. Dear Lorenzo, I think we are many who empathize with the strain that Dennis and the rest of the McKenna/Harrison family are experiencing because of some of the reactions to podcast 316. I certainly hope that Dennis may feel the great love and appreciation “out there” for all he is doing for the world. I also hope you and Bruce may feel that same warmth, gratitude and enthusiasm for your humongous effort at spreading information and clarity about very complex and important matters. Let’s simply let McKenna’s personal history rest for now and focus on the subjects of his talks, which is great fun, and the source of much less emotional attack and injury.

    Here are two photos from the manuscript. The first looks to me like some sort of cosmological statement, and is certainly ‘compelling’! I kind of hear the McKenna brothers’ voices (as in True Hallucinations) shout: ‘LOOK AT THIS!’ (Or is it the elf machines…)


    The other looks a little like some sort of cannabis, hehe:)


  26. Thank you, Lorenzo. Glad to hear you will be continuing to provide the community with this invaluable resource of material. I fear without your efforts many of these talks may have be lost or forgotten. Even though some of these recordings have been available on the net for a while, they have not been preserved with the level of audio quality that you are presenting them here at the Salon. Also, your frankness and openness about recent events is very much appreciated, it’s a sadness if people cannot see the importance of what you do here and the spirit of love in which it is done.

    Solidarity, my friend.

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