Terence McKenna Obituary in The Guardian

'Archaic revivalist' Terence McKenna dies

Author and explorer Terence McKenna died yesterday, aged 54, from a brain tumour diagnosed last May.

McKenna was best known for his controversial views on the impact of psychotropic plants on human culture and evolution, expounded through his books Archaic Revival, Food of the Gods and True Hallucinations, his website and lectures.

He argued that language, and even consciousness itself, may have been sparked off by consumption of psychoactive mushrooms in ancient cultures and that the human fascination with altered states of consciousness reveals much about our origins as human beings and our place in nature.

Travelling widely throughout the Amazon and Tropics, McKenna explored a variety of shamanic cultures and drew heavily on his experiences in his writing; his last book, True Hallucinations, published in 1999, documents his spiritual adventures in the Colombian jungle.

As a result of his fears about environmental threats to the rainforest, McKenna co-founded the 19-acre Botanical Dimensions reserve in Hawaii, dedicated to collecting and propagating medicinal and shamanic plants from the world's tropics, as well as the rapidly disappearing folk-knowledge associated with them.

McKenna's theories and writings were wide-ranging, evident from the title of his most popular book: The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, Ufos, Evolution, Shamanism, and the Rebirth of the Goddess

He also explored mathematics, developing a branch of fractal dynamics that he dubbed Novelty Theory and publishing a book of discussions — Trialogues at the Edge of the West — with mathematician Ralph Abraham and British biologist Rupert Sheldrake.

Enthusiastic about the potential of multimedia for spreading ideas, he concentrated on developing web-based projects in his last few years. He also contributed to a number of music CDs, most notably collaborating with British dance band The Shamen on Re:evolution.

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