Podcast 486 – “The Main Vein of the Peculiar”


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Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


Today’s podcast features the final section of a Terence McKenna workshop that took place in February 1991. In addition to more stories about the machine-elves and DMT, Terence covers evolution, the imagination, virtual reality, shamanism, and falling in love. The title of today’s podcast comes from my favorite quote by McKenna: “Apparently, if you pursue the weird, it won’t take you very long before you get to [psychedelics]. This is the main vein of the peculiar.”


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Posted in Alchemy, Ayahuasca, Consciousness, Culture, DMT, Evolution, Imagination, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Lorenzo- abut the history of soul through the species. TM might offer a clue here:


    He refers to, according to Jaynes, a period of soullessness that preceded a step in human consciousness. Part of the problem might be that the concept of soul (or more accurately “spirit” in this context) is still just a metaphor for something more subtle than we can describe.

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Thank you so very much for that link. You are the only person to have commented on that topic, and I had completely forgotten about that mention by Terence. You and Terence have now given me a whole lot of new ways to begin thinking about this.]

  2. Weird synchronicity – this talk has a big chunk on it about telos/purpose in it, and that’s something I spoke about explicitly in my own podcast that I recorded this week (on Aristotle), and in it I go on a tangent about how Terence wrestled with telos for years until that fateful 1994 mushroom trip in Hawaii. I finished recording my talk then went to listen to this one and *blam*: a big beautiful explicit section on teleology.

    The talk is here for anyone interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8crsdkyA6yE

    Also – that part where he talks about smoking DMT in a dream. That hasn’t happened to me (yet), but I’ve certainly been dosed with other psychedelics within dreams, and they totally alter the dreamscape – it’s exceedingly strange that you can have a psychedelic experience within an already psychedelic experience (though I suppose that’s no different than say, smoking DMT while on LSD) – you just keep climbing down into deeper and deeper wormholes of weird – a seemingly bottomless abyss.

  3. It always surprised me that McKenna couldn’t grasp the fact that the entities and voices he attributed to substances were most likely from his own mind. He was such a sharp and critical thinker on almost every other subject but he really missed this crucial point every time. Assuming a thought originated from an exterior source just because you think you couldn’t have come up with it is naive and he should really know better. The subconscious is deep.

    • He didn’t consider the most alien parts of the unconscious to be parts of the self. Because if I’m unrecognizable to myself, then I don’t know who I am, which kind of turns the concept of the self meaningless.

      Also, you can never say that a thought doesn’t “originate” from an exterior source. Because what does originating mean? Your genetic ancestry, all your previous experiences, the culture you grew up in are all part of the origins of your thoughts. Like the Jungian collective unconscious, which he referenced a lot.

  4. @ben mehh not me, I’ve heard his talks so much, and theres plenty in previous podcasts if you really crave it. but the Terence talks will always come back! dont worry about that.
    I’d love to hear some Sam Harris if Lorenzo could get him to talk more about psychedelics (interview maybe?)
    Or some more Bernardo Kastrup, maybe more on the subject of psychedelics aswell hehehe 🙂
    Timothy or the very few good Alan Watts talks.

  5. I’m sad this will be the past McKenna for atleast a while. Nobody else can match his depth of historical (and hence present) knowledge combined with his keen intellectual mapping.
    About the question if its coming from inside or outside, I can only sanely say it all points to a quantum situation, where what’s inside can physically interact with the outside world. Also like a quantum system is that it doesn’t like to be observed. I heard a radio lab talk about some behavior of geese that changed during the act of measuring it. Its my belief all creatures have a quantum soul and the thing that happened to set humans apart and sparked the massive growth of the brain was mushrooms pushed it to self awareness.
    And the ecology of souls is explained by this quantum soul, because not only does every species have a morphogenetic field but different age groups within the species also as it sets up a kind of standing wave that somehow informs all those wrinkles in the brain. So through the morphogenetic field people contribute to the species and all of this is downloaded into the brain

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