Podcast 320 – “Occupy Yourself”


Guest speaker: Lorenzo and friends

Lorenzo Hagerty at Esalen - June 2012PROGRAM NOTES:

In this follow-up session after Bruce Damer’s “Deep Dive into the Mind of McKenna”, Lorenzo leads the discussion of the participants in a workshop held at the Esalen Institute in June of 2012. Topics of the conversation include:
– Consciousness, not drugs were the focus of McKenna’s work
– Heroic doses are not as important as bringing back information
– The healing and love value of teaching plants
– We all contributed to making Terence McKenna a cultural icon
– Building a new civilization in the shell of the old
– The Eschaton as another step in human evolution


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Posted in Culture, Lorenzo, Myth, Occupy, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Using high levels of psychedelics is an important step for psychic evolution. Mushrooms totally transform for me personally at 4 grams, where you enter the flow of Tao. At yet another level, one comes to complete totality with the eternal expression of existence in a purely experiential reality, and come back with the understanding that this is oneness always. In logical terms, that state of infinity or “Godhead” is always what you’re in!
    Concerning music on heroic doses, it could be my personal expression set free, but lying in silent darkness can unleash the most incredible waves of alien architecture and psychic creations spurl about in their wonderous waves, all being followed by the most marvelously conducted music possible, flooding in from harpsichords, electric guitars, violins, synthesizers and the voices of a million angels! Best music ever.

  2. Lorenzo,

    you mentioned that you have seen objects which occured to you, could have been what Terence described as those “jewelled self-dribbling basket-balls”.

    How would you have described them?
    I know, you want to be catious of this language-creates-reality thing, but i think in this case it’s important to tell the community how you’d interpret those visions.

    maybe it turns out that many see the exact same thing, i other words to describe them are used.
    And we can go one step further to find out what these entities REALLY are…

    aloha from Switzerland!

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: I’ve been tempted from time to time to describe some of the DMT visuals in my own words, rather than Terence’s, but if I do then I’ll be doing the same thing he did by limiting one’s own thoughts about these things. My advice is to forget everything that anyone has said about what they look like and just go with your own vision. After all, what, exactly, is a “jeweled self-dribbling basketball”? All I can do is to add another layer of confusion on a visual experience that I suspect is quite similar for all of us but one which we all use different words to describe. . . . that’s why some of these experiences are classified as “ineffable” I guess :-).]

  3. To which I must add thanks for the many,many hours of delight that I’ve had listening to his voice. Whatever his excesses and oversights his talks are masterworks of psychedelic poetry and we’re lucky to have them.

  4. It’s seems rather disingenuous to redefine McKenna as a prophet of conciousness rather than tryptamines. His talks and writing deprecate not only other psychedelics outsidethe charmed circle ofdmt/psilocybin/pot, but most non-chemical practices(witnesses here the contumely directed to the east). None of these it seemed could hold a candle to the real illumination…As for his role as cultural seerer -read a little more widely and you’ll find many others making similar pronouncements-though rarely with such eloquence. For this reason the unqualified promotion of heroic doses is an issue: McKenna’s raps had the effect of making what most assumed to be a psychedelic experience seem trivial or sophomoric. Higher doses for the hardcore remained his mantra, and I know quite a few people who in the early 90’s got their synapses burnt pursuing the Terencedental singularity.

  5. Hi Lorenzo,
    it’s months than when I listen to your podcast I try to remember what Mc Kenna said in some of your podcast about syrian rue & mushrooms. He advices never to ingest a lot of syrian rue as a “trip modifier”. I’m sure I’m wrong with the doses but he said he took it in 1:1 proportion with mushrooms, like 5 gram dried mushrooms and 5 grams rue, and that was terrible.
    If anybody or you Lorenzo, are able to remember which episode it was I would be glad to hear it in a note of some future podcast.

  6. I found this very vague, and confusing. What are these new revelations about Mckenna? If he didnt take many psychedelics in the last 12 or so years, what does that imply? If Terence said he was taking many psychedelics in the last 12 years then I see a problem with that, but I dont specifically recall him ever saying that.

    Is there actually evidence that he contrived alot of his information into the realm of myth purely for profit or power?

    To me it sounds like alot of people bought too heavily into Terence’s more absurd theories like 2012 and Timewave zero. While its a neat idea, it didnt sound all that probable.

    So the fallout of that doesnt seem so surprising, but there seems to be some sort of implication in this podcast that Terence fabricated many of his visions and ideas without actually having seen or experienced them in the psychedelic experience. To me this sounds like a major charge against Terence Mckenna, and if true I think it deservedly debunks alot of what he was saying. However that evidence was not presented, and so its all very vague, what is truly being said here.

    Love the podcasts and have been listening for years,
    and would be happy to hear some clarification about this one.
    – Sasha

  7. I didn’t know Terence until I fell on this web site. So, thank you Lorenzo! I found his conversations pretty interesting, sometimes his ideas were at odds from other things he said. Knowing that he didn’t take all these drugs in such amounts & as often as implied was a relief. I think he was more like the Wizard of Oz type of person. I didn’t follow him like one of the Munchkins…but still I could have been the “Tin Man”.

  8. The recent TM revelations are interesting, but the reactions to them are fascinating.
    It seems there are as many different Terences as there are his listeners.
    As I see it, we are each editors of our lives, concocting a version of ourselves to present to others. Terence was a gifted wordsmith and unsurprisingly, authored a suitably fantastic public persona.
    Kept me entertained, at least.

    Big love, Lorenzo.

  9. I was fortunate enough to have taken 400mcg of Sandoz LSD 5 times in ’66 and have never used it again.

    I have been a big user of cannabis ever since ’66 and this was enough for me to fully help digest what those 5 Sandoz experience meant.

    Terrence McKenna also said many times he used cannabis often, and with his mind I feel he did not need much more ‘sacred medicine’.

    I could not imagine the hardship of being a ‘Terrence McKenna’ in a culture that eats and destroys their ‘model makers’.

    It is a shame that Terrence McKenna could not earn an income any other way than being a Terrence McKenna Model Maker.

    I am very grateful to be anonymous.

  10. Hi Lorenzo,

    I am an old psychedelic ranger, but had never heard of Terence until about a year ago. It comes as no surprise to me that he could have had some “issues”. Everyone that I hung out with certainly had at least one burr under their saddle blanket.

    No one that is comfortable in their conditioning would repeatedly take substances that challenged that conditioning in the powerful and unpredictable way that psychedelics do.

    Also, idealizing some person as a guru is not doing that person any favors. The pressure of always having to say something wise or meaningful and not being able to be just plain silly in public must be nearly unbearable.

    So there you go Lorenzo. You may be a psychedelic insider, but don’t ever let your following take away your natural right to be a silly person as well.

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: 🙂 . . . there’s no danger of me not being silly. Recently, one of my grandchildren told me that she thought that I acted like I was only five years old (she’s seven). I took it as a grand compliment.]

  11. It doesn’t mean anything that it doesn’t mean anything. See it and move on. Simple 🙂

  12. Your Esalen contributors on this podcast seemed to take proper care to try and NOT lionize Terence M. Yet they also seemed deeply uncertain about who — or what — to turn to next. Reliance on heroes breeds laziness, IM(not very)HO. Time is now to kill the Buddha?

    St. Terence of McKenna might here lightly taunt us with a challenging statement,perhaps: “Build your own damn boat!”

    I first met Terence when I was well into middle age, right here on this podcast. It was about a decade after he died. To me Terence is alive on the Internet. This is his “only” trace, but it’s also one helluva cognitive swath. This strange state may not yet comprise full-house immortality. Yet, if being able to source this mans startling outputs everywhere… all the time… on demand… is not an actual form of time travel, then what is?

    Terence did not build himself alone. He had scribes and teachers. My personal thanks to the shamans, the others, the brother,the lovers, the friends, especially to Lorenzo H. for the excellent introduction.

    Maybe we should come to terms with the possibility that there may be no durable heroes in this shakey/dismal life at all…none….just moments when one of our species unaccounably rises up and for a time….spikes….and has the gift to take some of us with him/her….and informs us that we too can occasionally spike.

    This need not indicate we spikers have somehow earned our trip, or have attained some species of unassailable moral nature. Recent revelations about the “real” Terence are oddly comforting to me. And I’m very glad they came from Lorenzo, someone whose motives and careful work I trust.

    Thirteenth century European and the Middle Eastern mystics also spoke in terms wondrous, esctatic and barely “Englishable”. Many is the poet/saint/mystic/shaman whose spoken outputs were breathakingly angelic or even above… but whose whose life circumstances were otherwise.

    Many is the time these geniuses have held long and heated discussions with Terence the Wild Man…in my head. So this remains a fruitful adventure for me. Thanks to everyone for the spikes, loving mother Salvia, you most especially. I hope we all can continue together for some time to come.

  13. Well, the panel has had their chance to express what they think and I appreciate that Lorenzo has given me a space to say what I think – so, thank you. And to the point I’d say; contrariwise, I suspect that if Terence had been at this discussion that instead of being pleased he may well have kicked you all’s backsides out the room – that is to say that I’d have been disappointed if (in such a hypothetical situation) he didn’t. If you can say that you don’t understand someone’s work and don’t agree with it (leaving aside how you decide what your level of agreement is with something you say you don’t understand) then that’s fine -but then to interpret what the absent person under discussion REALLY meant rather takes it too far. You all have some good ideas and do some good work – I just don’t see why you had to bring Terence into this. But I will say that I’m glad that Terence’s talks were recorded and are available so we can refer to the original material and form our own opinions. Now, I don’t mean for you all to take this personally, I don’t mean ill will, but if I “pulled the punch” then I’d been better holding my peace and would have insulted you by thinking you need to be coddled… so: like a pack of jackals tearing at a lion they will never equal. It’s only too human to take a thing and fit it by reduction into what we already understand rather than to reach further… hey, you’ll have that. So in the end, I’m glad that this discussion happened and is here to be listened to – let it serve as a caution to us all.

  14. Thank you for this podcast. I seldom respond to much & never to a PS episode, but this one requires my input.
    First, TM’s focus on language was as a form of communication & that meaning would be beheld visually in some predicted future evolutionary arc. This would dramatically improve understanding the meaning for all.

    As for heroic doses, I learned about the 5-gram threshold on my own after much experimentation. Because the mushroom’s effects come in waves, even a 4-gram dose is not enough to always be swept away by the waves. And only high doses can create the potential for hearing the voice, @ least for me. In addition, silent darkness alone w/ no music (I would add fire) & the phone unplugged can one get to the alien space. Much to my delight, I first heard TM on Roy of Hollywood’s KPFA show & immediately was transfixed when I he said “And when the mushroom speaks…”

    High dose psychedelic experiences, including LSD, in general are required to reach the deeper levels. I do not recommend them frequently (and never assumed TM did them a lot, he even said so many times), but they are essential to getting to a the space that doesn’t seem accessible any other way. I am guilty of using these sacraments as party drugs, etc yet believe they have a myriad of applications. I always approach high-dose trips w/ great fear & respect. Low dose mushrooms can be problematic in social settings, esp. when others are not sharing. They can be erotic enhancers & good for dancing. Mid-level doses 2.5-4 g.) can be very frustrating & confusing.

    As for TM’s terrifying encounter w/ the self (not the Other), I am surprised. My goodness, I would expect he had gone through those interpersonal issues w/ early LSD trips. Can’t say I am disappointed in his late encounter & subsequent neglect in dealing w/ it publicly.

  15. Thanks Lorenzo for this interesting podcast. I really liked your observation that what Terence was often talking about was consciousness itself, rather than the psychedelic experience. That is quite profound. I too tuned out when he would go on about his stoned ape theory, or the proper way to take mushrooms, not because I didn’t agree with this but because his discourse on the nature of reality and what the after death state may hold for us was so much more interesting. For me these two areas are where the genius of Terence Mckenna rests.

    I believe the combination that Terence talked about that “turned him every way but loose” was ayahausca and mushrooms. Someone from the audience asks if he has ever used psilocybin mushrooms in place of psychotria viridis, and he describes a very dark trip he once had on this combo. The McKenna brothers brush with insanity in the amazon was probably a result of using MAOI and mushrooms together, so I can understand Terence’s fear of this combination. Maybe it was the fabled last mushroom trip of Terence Mckenna…

    It was also good to hear the guy in the audience say that 5 gram plus dosages may well be suitable for some people, and that everyone needs to determine what dosage is most useful to them. In the end maybe Terence’s life was his message, as maybe for some people its best to have a handful of extremely intense experiences and ride the wave for the years to come. This is certainly how many indigenous peoples such as the Bwiti treat the psychedelic experience.

  16. I have to say this podcast kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I doesn’t exactly seem fair to be sitting around criticizing a man’s life when he isn’t around to defend himself.

    To me, it always seemed pretty obvious that a man as cerebral as Terence probably is lacking in other areas of his personal development. That tends to be the pattern with hyper creative individuals.

    And so what if he slowed down in his use of psychedelics when he was nearing 50. The man had enough psychedelic experience earlier in life that his credibility should be a given. The charlatan accusation by one of the speakers was completely off base. If anything Terence’s self deprecating wit and skepticism of new age softheadedness placed him in at polar opposites with any kind of hucksterism.

    And no offence to Lorenzo, but I didn’t hear anyone in that talk that sounded like they would be in the same intellectual strata as McKenna. It just came off like a group of mediocre minds attempting to debunk the man’s ideas through ad hominen attacks.

    To convene some kind of intervention 12 years after the man has died and sit in judgement about all his character flaws just seems very petty to me. But to be fair, not all the speakers were critical of Terence. I guess I just don’t understand the need of some to talk negatively about the private life of Terence, when the public intellectual Terence gave us so much fodder for interesting discussion.

  17. The Timewave Theory doesn’t make any sense in any other way than literally.

    Also, not taking it “too literally” is not really an answer to the improbability of its foundations. I think that Bruce is just patching together different out-of-context fragments of conversation about something that he doesn’t understand.

    Also, eskhatos means “last”. That’s why Terence used that word. Because it means what he wanted to say. We can talk about “another step”, but that is not eschatology.

    Stop distorting what Terence said to be able to believe it! Just don’t believe it! Jeez!

    In this recording there was a guy who said he was a newcomer to Terence’s work, and that he doesn’t see the contradiction. Just like many of us who know him from his talks don’t understand what kind of “illusion” Bruce is talking about. Maybe I’m just projecting too much, but maybe there is a correlation here. Maybe that “illusion” that some people are being disillusioned from doesn’t come from anything Terence ever said publicly. But from a mental halo made of religious-type belief-addicted touchy-feely people, who made stuff up about Terence.

    That’s what I’d like to hear more about. This is not about Terence. It’s about a relationship between him and a certain cloud of ideas that surrounded him in the heads of certain people. A cloud of ideas that was not created by what he said. But by the personalities of those people.

    The history of an intellectual tragedy is starting to emerge here for me, I can’t wait to read Dennis’s book and what he has to tell about it.

  18. in these weird times, where sheer sanity itself is the new sexy (imho), the boon of transcendence is well highlighted in the notion ‘occupy yourself’. the word ‘boon’ is for me a keyword that brings joseph campbell to mind from his ‘the hero with a thousand faces’.
    as i listen to this podcast, i begin to appreciate Terence even more yet for even simply keeping his cookies together as well as he did.
    he didn’t get to live to old age, or experience the boons that it brings. castaneda held our elder years as a final challenge and they’re certainly that but also a challenge of their gifts of revelation.
    the subsidence of hormones doesn’t come alone; our life lessons tag along and are as informed as they inform.

    as many levels and forms of insanity as we may preoccupy ourselves with considering, i suspect there may well be too as many such of sanity itself. we trash too many boons, some inadvertently, some unavoidably. it’s paradoxical; we travel our roads alone ultimately and yet not -we are not alone.

    i have to wonder whose [other] individual boons meant the most to Terence.


    language and ‘Elders’…

    to me, one of the lessons of taking head drugs is the perspective they give (in contrast) on the effects of body drugs on our society, alcohol in particular of course and all it’s influence in the dominator culture. as ‘Elders’, or ‘heads’, this may be viewed as a given subscription. much of what Terence gave us are matters of subscription, in ways and degrees. i subscribe muchly to his picture. fermented honey indeed. that what preserves may well branch.

    subscription though -to whatever degree -is not submission. submission is central to the world’s monotheistic religions. what we do submit ourselves to here is dropping the shroom or tab. whatever it may bring, one thing is sure, a larger perspective.

    i believe the world’s religions are a response to the dom culture as much as they are boons brought back from revelation. that which gives can take away and our ‘allies’ may not always seem in concord with themselves as we perceive them. i believe the world’s religions, as they continue, embrace much of the dom culture even as they seek to not disclude all. not everybody has emotions of conscience and they too are part of reality. (gad, i wish Bruce Lee had continued to live to this day.) what can we really say to the followers of barbarity? that they’re wrong and we’re ‘right’? liberty is paradoxical, and cognitive liberty particularly so.

    paradoxes are good. a friend said the other day, ‘there are 2 things God cannot do; he cannot tell a lie and he cannot make a mistake.’ i replied ‘God’ isn’t a man and that the framing context is askew, and to illustrate my point i bade him consider the paradox of this sentence: ‘this is a lie.’ & to consider a larger notion of ‘God’ that may ever be incomplete but just to try.

    so here we are, in seeming virtual competition with the proponents of the very viewpoint of competition itself. Terence spoke much of holding seemingly opposite notions at once, and quite aptly.

    as ‘Elders’, we are up against our own chutzpah, arrogance, and yes even Ego. nonetheless:
    “WARNING: The Post-Larval Must Be Very Cautious in Communicating with Larval humans.”
    i believe that is good advice. i also believe language, our infinitely discerning choice of words [*koff*], is part & parcel of these challenges. see rule #1.


    is man free to ultimately commit suicide, geocide, and ‘earthicide’? apparently. let us not participate in debate or contention and undermine our own perspective even as the world’s major religions have done but rather first not even lose the boons at all. this is what i got out of Terence.

    (Eleusis’s losses, yeah. hell of a challenge. let’s not have another! geez, the loss of Terence’s own library comes to mind.)

    who was it that said suicide was the ultimate philosophical challenge? Camus? depression is as much one of the damned inorganic beings as any. the central nervous system’s inorganic beings preclude love a lot. damn the barriers.


    wife calls. gin rummy. i’m only at 27:08 in the podcast as it is. 😀
    i’m hitting the submit comment button now just the same.

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