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McKenna, Terence K. (Terence Kemp)



  • Existence: November 16, 1946 - April 3, 2000

Terence was born on November 16, 1946 in Paonia, Colorado. He studied history at U.C. Berkeley in 1965 and later enrolled at the Tussman Experimental College. After completing the College’s two-year program, Terence withdrew from the University of California, though he maintained his position as a laboratory assistant in the Entomology Department, where he prepared insect specimens for the collection of the California Insect Survey. From October 1967 to March 1968, Terence travelled widely in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Upon his return to the US, Terence worked as a gardener and sold fabrics and trinkets that he acquired abroad. He returned to India in 1969, seeking to study Tibetan languages and religion. Terence supported himself by collecting and selling specimens of exotic butterflies to buyers in Singapore and America. In 1970, he moved to Japan, where he worked as an English teacher. Upon hearing of his mother’s illness, Terence moved to Vancouver, where he found employment as a restaurant worker. Following his mother’s death, he moved to Colombia, where Terence and younger brother, Dennis McKenna, later performed "the experiment at La Chorrera." In 1971, Dennis and Terrence traveled to La Chorrera, the ancestral home of the Witoto people in the Colombian Amazon, in search of "oo-koo-hé", a DMT-containing plant. Companion researchers accompanied the brothers, and the group was collectively known as the Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss. The experiment occurred on March 4, wherein Dennis and Terence consumed a brew of plant hallucinogens, aiming to fabricate an artifact that would be the fusion of mind and matter. The brothers recounted the details of what happened in La Chorrera in their 1975 book "The Invisible Landscape". Terence wrote about his experience more directly in his 1993 book "True Hallucinations". In 1975, Terence graduated from Berkeley with a B.S. in ecology, resource conservation, and shamanism. In 1976, Terence and Dennis pseudonymously published one of the earliest psilocybin mushroom growing guides under the names O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric. In 1985, Terence co-founded the non-profit Botanical Dimensions, with his then-wife Kathleen Harrison-McKenna. The organization aimed to collect and propagate medicinal and shamanic plants and fungi from around the world. Throughout the 1990s, Terence wrote and lectured widely about shamanism, ethnopharmacology, and plant hallucinogens. He spent the last few years of his life in Hawaii and died of brain cancer in 2000 at the age of 53. Note written by Dennis J. McKenna.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Dennis J. McKenna papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 213
Abstract The Dennis J. McKenna papers contain unpublished manuscripts, field reports, journals of personal reflections, photographs, and correspondence pertaining to Dennis and Terence McKenna’s intellectual and research interests.
Dates: 1943 - 2016

Terence McKenna recordings

Identifier: MSP 185
Abstract A collection of seven audio cassettes distributed by Dolphin Tapes (Big Sur, California) containing Terence McKenna lectures and radio interviews recorded from 1981 to 1983.
Dates: Other: Date acquired: 12/02/2009