Podcast 325 – “Cauldron Chemistry”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“Safety is really a concern of mine, and what I’ve been telling people recently is that until there’s animal and human data on a drug it should probably be looked at very carefully.”

“In the absence of good scientific data about the effects of artificial hallucinogens it’s good to stick to the natural ones.”

“I think that what these psychedelics do, is they actually do connect you to the whole circle. You stand outside of the moment from which you embarked on your psychedelic experience, and you see eternity like a vast landscape deployed in front of you. So what I think psychedelics are is they’re about time, and they somehow make all time co-present.”

“The apocalypse is the millennium, and the psychedelics move you into the future.”

“I think that the whole thing, the crux of the whole psychedelic issue, is that it accentuates personal responsibility by making people take their own experiences seriously.”


PCs – Right click, select option
Macs – Ctrl-Click, select option

Links mentioned in Jon Hanna’s comments:

The bio synthesis of dimethyltryptamine in vivo.

Comments by Sasha about DMT & Tryptophan

Posted in Alchemy, Hermeticism, Jon Hanna, LSD, Psychedelics, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. CAUTION REGARDING THE CALIFORNIA NEWT: I wanted to provide a cautionary tale regarding the California Newt, Taricha torosa. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT CONSUMING ANY PART OF THIS ANIMAL. I had one as a pet for several years, unknown to me it is illegal to do so (illegal for good reason). A friend whose roommate abandoned two of them in a room she quit paying rent on, survived without food for over two months. When he found them, he dumped them, water and all, in his backyard in North Hollywood. I found one of them when helping clean his storage shed and fell in love with it. They amble along without a care, and they’re extremely easy to catch, especially when it is cold outside. He became the star of several short films, most famously “Earthworm -vs- Newt”.
    I was cleaning his dish one day in the sink, and because the sink is not vertical, some of the water splashed on my cutting board. I cleaned the cutting board at the time, and cleaned it again about 45 minutes later before making some really good guacamole, cutting the onions and smashing the garlic on the cutting board. Roughly 45 minutes after consuming the guacamole, the tip of my nose, tongue and lips began to feel as if they were being pricked with needles. This turned into a numbness which spread to my appendages. I began searching the internet, a little shaky at this point, looking for clues. I found this word: TETRODOTOXIN. Yes, the same found in a gland in the Fugu fish (a sushi delicacy which requires expert care in removing the gland before consuming the fish). At that point I called poison control and spent the next 45 minutes on the phone with them going over the time of consumption, the effects which by this time had turned into a full shake of my body; numbness and tingling of all extremities; the inability to feel my lips or tongue; the slight swelling of my lower lip; shortness of breath; and little difficulty speaking. I was told to call them back in three hours and hung up the phone. I continued to do research on the internet and found two fatalities: one in Oregon by a man who ate one on a dare; and the second in California by a 4 year-old boy who put one in his mouth, only to spit it out after mom found the tail hanging out of his lips. Both fatalities occurred within 6 hours of oral contact. Also I found accounts of witch doctors who tartrated bits of tetrodotoxin into people’s food who they wished to make slaves in both Haiti and Jamaica. Apparently the basis for the book and film, “Serpent and the Rainbow”. It took around 2.5 hours for the feeling to return to my hands and feet, around the time a lethargy set in which was not unlike melatonin. Finally, three hours elapsed and I called poison control back. It was a little easier for me to speak, and the person who I spoke to earlier had recorded the information in a log which was easily retrieved by the person I spoke with. I was informed then that I would live, and had I not called back 30 minutes from then, medical personnel would have been banging my door down to rush me to the hospital. Apparently, the condition could be mediated with IV fluids but there was no guarantee of survival depending on the amount ingested. Whew… I did handle the little critter daily with my hands, and took it to work in a clear fish container in which I would lightly fill with water at work, hold him and dump it out at the end of the day. He loved that. But, he disliked being retrieved from his dish and put on gravel for me to clean his dish. When I would do that, his skin would emit a foamy, white ‘sweat’ which I learned contained the tetrodotoxin. Obviously a repellant for predators. Accounts of hawks eating them, then flying out of mid-air dead, onto the ground shortly followed by the newt crawling out of its mouth are also on the web.
    Not once did I feel “high”. My heart did not race, but the thumping was tough and my throat did constrict a little bit. But what was most noticed was the depression of my respiratory system. Breathing was intermittent with very shallow breaths, and a deep breath was a little bit restricted, like my chest wasn’t large enough. Again, I did not ingest much of the toxin at all,,, maybe micrograms. I cleaned the cutting board twice before using it, and touched the little critter daily for years prior to that incident without a problem. I have had recurring leg fasciculations for the past three years when I am really tired or when I do a ton of exercise and I am not sure if that is related to neurology or a magnesium imbalance or my body still detoxing the tetrodotoxin which is a neurotoxin. Nonetheless, I did not have any leg fasciculations, ever, before the incident.
    Like any animal or drug, do all the research you can prior to investigation. I wasn’t even sure what kind of critter I had for the few years leading up to the incident. My “Little Monster Friend” got skinny and died last year, so I had a ceremony and buried it under some brush near by. Interestingly, there is a ton of foliage there now where there was none before. Yea, even during the dry California Summer.

  2. Since this can’t be posted in its respective place, as podcast 316 was taken down, I must say that I was completely taken back by Bruce Damer’s take on Terence McKenna. To say that ‘you guys’ think Terence is in some sort of Bardo is not a reality for Terence’s soul, but actually a statement about your own psychological issues. The “Spell” is not broken, because no spell was ever placed, unless Bruce and others did not understand McKenna’s ideas for what they are – poetic revelries into the imagination. And TM always said that one should not believe ideologies.

    That podcast was disgusting, and it totally betrays the essence of Terence McKenna, shamanism, & psychedelic understanding. How dare you speak about Terence and present it in a way where you have now revealed “the truth” of the situation. What truth? Your view? You are allegedly his comrades or friends or admirers, and you don’t even understand the basic tenet of his philosophy for living: in some very real sense, that reality is what we imagine it to be. And you have imagined Terence to be somewhat fraudulent, confused, or over-the-top. My goodness how your imagination seems more like a reality matrix than a sweet mesmerizing ode to greater beauty and love.

  3. I loved this talk and I love Terrence McKenna! I have listend intently for two years and am finally now leaving a comment! Thanks to Terrence for his “Performances” and thanks to Lorenzo for posting them — let’s keep this thing going!

  4. Thank you for putting this online. With all the changes to come, I think Terrence is smiling somewhere.

  5. It is true that Terence was sloppy with facts, as highlighted by the discussion regarding methyltransferase and DMT synthesis in this talk. For some reason (maybe it was pride? or expectations?), Terence seemed to not like admitting he wasn’t 100% sure of knowing something. In this talk he alludes to the fact that his real expertise is the in the experiential realm of psychedelics, rather than the technical details.

    Rather than the bizarre discussion about rabbits and pig intestines, the most notable snippet I got out of this talk was his belief that psychedelics allow us to view reality outside of time. Now that is real food for thought.

  6. Hello Salon,

    I recently re-listened to all my Terence McKenna lectures and I realized I must be missing some because there were some lines and topics that I remember but did not hear again during the latest McKenna Marathon. Can anyone help?

    Here are the lines/topics:

    1. Toward the end of lecture someone asks a question from the audience. I don’t believe the question is discernable but the audience laughs and Terence responds “Who sent you here?” to which the audience laughs again.

    2. Terence mentions smoking DMT on a grassy hill in Golden Gate park.

    3. Terence is talking about the repression of sexuality in the United States and shares a story about a German friend of his who he goes to the beach with and she “whips her top off” and then he explains to her that that doesn’t fly in the USA.

    4. I could also swear I heard a lecture in which Terence talks about how the US government “lost” a few C-130 aircraft and shortly thereafter one of them was caught transporting drugs from South America.

    Anyone know where I can find this stuff?

  7. Really Lorenzo?!? Your psychedelic expert par excellence is named K. Trout? Is that a joke? Am I the only one that thought this could be a K. Vonnegut reference…?

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: That’s his real name. His latest book is “Some Simple Tryptamines”, and it’s in its second edition. He is the author of several books and many articles for the Entheogen Review among other publications. . . . Plus, he is one really terrific person!]

  8. Looking forward to this, as always grateful for the podcast. To the above poster, I have had a good look around and despite finding quite a few references to the smaller dose elephant/LSD trial you mention. The larger 6 gram mention still evades me. I will post anything I find.

  9. I was very interested in the elephant Terence mentioned that consumed 6 grams of lsd. I tried finding information about this on the web, but only came up with an elephant given .297g of lsd and dying shortly after. Although it mentions the elephant was given other chemicals, is the 6 gram elephant something of truth?

  10. I found it funny that after the guy started off by asking Terence some pretty zany questions, the woman sorta took over and made it clear that they should ask some of the more straight forward and simpler questions.

    Guy: “Hey Terence is it true you can gain telepathy by snorting silly putty?”
    Lady “Let’s start with something simpler like, what is a bong?”

  11. Terence casts another lovely spell in this interview. Then Lorenzo leaps on the back end and performed the necessary buzz-kill. Ah well. Facts matter.

  12. Is there anywhere I can hear Shulgin and Terence debating about natural and synthetic psychedelics? Somehow I know I’d love to hear that haha.

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