Psychedelic Symbiosis with Dennis McKenna
Legend, Dennis McKenna, shares how we should best integrate psychedelic mushrooms into society with the vision that symbiotic relationships are an organismic right.
- The McKenna’s trip to La Chorrera in search of psychedelic Virola sap called oo-koo-hey, and the inadvertent encounter of Psilocybe cubensis in cow pies
- Psilocybin as an ideal oral form of DMT
- Chemical composition of psychedelic mushrooms i.e beta-carboline content
- The McKenna family, from a small town in Colorado and the becoming of the most influential figures in western psychedelic use
- Psilocybin’s potential influence on hominid evolution including fossil records, ecological history, circumstantial evidence, epigenetics, and more
- Prohibition and regulation of psilocybin and other entheogens
- Organismic birthrights to form a relationship with the natural world
We are humbled to be speaking with psychedelic pioneer, Dennis McKenna. Dennis and his late brother, Terrence, are two of the most influential figures in western culture regarding psychedelics. The brothers contributed to the introduction of psilocybin mushrooms in the United States, including but not limited to, cultivation techniques, ethnomycology, user guidance, and spore provision.
Dennis was active in the psychedelic movement in the 60s and continues to shape the 21st-century renaissance through education and organizations such as the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy. Prepare for some serious wisdom and untold stories from the McKenna family in the podcast! In this blog post, however, you’ll learn about Dennis’ perspective on our relationship with psilocybin and how we should best integrate it into our society.
About Dennis McKenna
Dennis is an ethnopharmacologist who has been studying psychedelic plants for about 40 years professionally. His work consists of scientific research on Amazonian plants like Ayahuasca as well as psilocybin. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute as well. After he moved to Canada, he founded the non-profit, McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy. Beforehand, he taught ethnopharmacology and ethnobotany at the University of Minnesota for two decades. Now, he is now semi-retired, but working a lot with the Academy.
Prior to Dennis founding the McKenna Academy, he and his brother, Terrence, became well-known for their adventures in the Colombian Amazon. During their journey they were searching for a DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) containing sap. However, they encountered psychedelic mushrooms in abundance too. To learn about their amazing journey, check out the presentation, “The Experiment at La Chorrera: A 50-Year Retrospective,” for exclusive details on their hallucinogenic adventure.
Dennis’ Perspective on Psilocybin as a Psychedelic Drug
"Growing psychedelic mushrooms" by talakay1 is marked with CC BY 2.0.
Psilocybin, according to Dennis, is the most perfect active form of DMT. Its natural properties make it superior in comparison to other orally-active psychedelic goods. It is an “ideal psychedelic” because the mushrooms are not known to have lethal doses and are considered safe. ”Psilocybin is [also] very stable.” So, if you don’t feel the effects of a small dose, you can just consume more of it. According to his brother, Terrence McKenna, who discovered the “heroic dose [of] five dried grams.” However, it is normal to take more than that. But since mushrooms do not cause toxicity as it is “extremely tolerable [to] the human body” there is no need to worry about an overdose; though 30 to 60 grams is really an exorbitant amount.
Creating Symbiotic Relationships
The important part about symbiosis is that we are creating a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, humans and psilocybin have been forming a bond over the evolution of time and space. As we are cultivating different psychedelic strains of the mushroom, the symbiotic relationship has contributed to “the development of our imagination, our cognitive ability, [and] linguistics abilities.”
In perspective, building a symbiotic relationship with other organisms — not just psilocybin — is an organismic right. As a very large organism ourselves, humans should be able to create symbiosis with the things growing around us. Moreover, Dennis states that there should be regulations for the drug in regards to “purity and… formulation.” Yet, scheduling the substance as a schedule one drug or prohibiting it is too far gone and undeserving.
Since psilocybin has been studied intensely for many years — it is a very safe drug. The mushroom has already started to get integrated into society for therapeutic uses. Check out the Mushroom Revival Podcast Episode: “Psilocybin for Weight Loss” as an example of one of the therapies the psychedelic drug is being used for.
Integrating Psilocybin Into Society
So, psilocybin is the best psychoactive drug to integrate into society because it is readily available in comparison to “LSD, DMT, [or] ayahuasca[, as you have] to go to the corners of the earth to find some of these.” The mushroom is cheap and easy to cultivate — not to mention sustainable. Moreover, a very smart and young high schooler could easily grow the mushrooms. It is safe in high doses and is empirically shown to contain beneficial properties for the mind and body as well. Importantly, psychedelic mushrooms would be an excellent alternative to many modern drugs and therapies available today.
Luckily, Dennis and his brother brought psilocybin to the US and made it available and affordable for people. With their experience and knowledge, Dennis created the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, which shares unique insights and “provi[des] a fully-integrated curriculum including spiritual, shamanic, exploratory and medical use of Psychedelic Medicines” (4). Psilocybin cubensis contains “all kinds of good properties, [like] medicinal properties… not just the psychoactive ones.” In the podcast, Dennis shares the best ways to integrate the mushies into society. Read on for a brief of his vision.
Dennis believes that community centers would be the way to integrate the therapeutic effects of psilocybin. A wellness hub that offers alternative modalities such as yoga and nutrition alongside psychedelics in conscious and controlled atmospheres is the best manner of integration. All of this is similar to ceremonial conditions as spiritual ancestors have led ceremonies in parallel guided contexts. Another method of coalescing is retreat centers that are constructed to adapt to our modern societies.
Moreover, when these locations are founded on a principle of education, then people will begin to understand how psilocybin functions as a medicine. “The key to the whole thing is educating people.” With educational curriculum and professional guidelines, unwanted adverse effects will be limited and health benefits will be maximized. One way that people can get educated is through online or in-person courses such as seminars where informative facts are provided. The organization of mindfully held spaces for philosophical discourse is also ideal. In the podcast, Dennis provides an analogy for the importance of educating people while bringing psilocybin into the community. If you want to drive a car, you have to study to take the driver’s test, right?
For more information, check out the podcast to learn more. You’ll hear about the upbringing of psilocybin in the US, more about Dennis McKenna and his work in the psychedelic field, as well as deeply fascinating discourse on the science behind psilocybin.
Podcast Show Notes & Works Cited
- “The Experiment at La Chorrera: A 50-Year Retrospective:” https://www.crowdcast.io/e/TheExperiment/register
- The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss My Life with Terence McKenna by Dennis McKenna: http://brotherhoodofthescreamingabyss.com/
- True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise by Terence Mckenna: https://www.amazon.com/True-Hallucinations-Extraordinary-Adventures-Paradise/dp/0062506528
- McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy: https://mckenna.academy/
- Heffter Research Institute: https://www.heffter.org/
- Erowid Reports on Virola sap: https://erowid.org/library/books_online/golden_guide/g71-80.shtml
- Psilocybin: A Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/415951.Psilocybin
“Part of the message from nature is, [psilocybin] is the perfect psychedelic, you don’t really need to improve on it.”
“We were approaching this like engineers, we wanted to build a machine out of our own bodies that would enable us to visit other dimensions.”
“People should have a fundamental right to form symbiosis. And because we’re talking about alliances with non-human organisms, it's not even a human right, it's an organismic right.”
“When you choose to use a drug, you’re choosing a relationship.... call it a symbiotic relationship.”
You're listening to the mushroom revival podcast.
Dennis, all of our listeners probably know who you are your name. The McKenna name is all over the community. But I'm curious how would you introduce yourself to someone who has no idea?
I try to avoid those people. But I would say I'm an ethno pharmacologist and I've been studying psychedelic plants for about 40 years seriously, and most of my scientific work with with those things has been on the Amazonian plants, particularly I wasco. But I've also of course, studied, mushrooms are like a study, there's the word that that comes to mind. But that's, that's basically what I am. I'm an ethno pharmacologist, I've studied these things. I'm a founding board member of the hefter Research Institute, which was a nonprofit group that is about 30 years old bow that promotes biomedical research with psychedelics similar to maps, not as well known as maps, but but still quite effective. At out there, a lot of what the hefter has done is help investigators to bring psilocybin into mainstream medicine, we get funds, we raise funds from donors, and we fund academic researchers, basically, now clinical researchers. So there was that. A couple of years ago, in 2019, I moved to Canada. And I founded this nonprofit called the McKenna Academy of natural philosophy, which is incorporated as a nonprofit in the states actually. And people can look at that at McKenna dot Academy and see what we're up to. I taught ethno pharmacology and ethnobotany at the University of Minnesota for about 20 years, before I moved to Canada. And so now I'm here more or less, I guess, officially semi retired, but I'm still on busier than ever. With the Academy.
Another thing, let's go through a portal of time where your first adventures with with your brother Terrence, one of the first stories that I've heard was your trip to launch Herrera in the Colombian Amazon, where you were looking for this, this, this DMT containing SAP. And it's one that you studied significantly throughout your life but but you stumbled upon these mushrooms and it's it's an amazing story. And I would love to start there as an intro to one yourself and Terence and this, this beautiful journey through talking about these plants and well, mushrooms.
I'll tell you, I'm not going to go too deep into that because we get down that rabbit hole and we never get out of it, frankly. And I've told the story many times as a matter of fact, on the academy website, we did a 50 year retrospective on the experiment at lutcher era on March 3, which was the 50th anniversary Believe it or not of the experiment at lottery. Wow. And people could look at that site that that symposium or or presentation whatever it was on the academy website and see what we you know what we discussed, so I'm not going to go into depth about it. What I will say is that, you know as as you as you properly said, we went to South America thinking we were looking for this exotic, obscure hallucinogen called oo kouhei, derived from the Verona SAP the sap of merola's. Many roles in the Amazon basin are used as snuffs in the form of snuffs, they prepare, extract the SAP and they grind it down and dry it out and they use it as a snuff and it's very potent. But the preparation we were looking for was orally active instead of a snuff, it was kind of a paste and only a few tribes in the Amazon about three actually used it in that form. And they took it as as a as a pace. So that was all really active. So we were interested in that because of its oral activity and that is what led To lutcher era, because lutcher era was the ancestral home of the widow people, and they were the keepers of this knowledge. So that was really what led us to go to lutcher era, we were looking for this, this medicine called buku, hay in the width total, more or less buku. A. And that's why we ended up there. And then when we got there, as it turned out, it was a mission settlement, they cleared pastures all around about 200 acres of pasture they brought in cattle to that place. And out of every cow pie, we happen to hit the height of the rainy season, apparently. So pretty much out of every cow pie were these big, beautiful clusters of philosophy cubensis. And so that quickly rearranged our priorities, shall we say? You know, we were still looking for Oh, kouhei. But But we took a major detour into the world of suicide. But you know, and that's all been described. In this event, we just did that. Also with our both of our books, my book, The Brotherhood of the screaming abyss, and Terence, his book, true hallucination goes into all the details about that, and what happened. So I don't want to get into into the details. But suffice it to say that, in some ways, you know, our rationale for going to lecture and seeking this orally active form of DMT, who kouhei succeeded in the sense that really silicided that is the perfect orally active form of DMT, if you think about it, railside been is converted to cillessen in the body, and cillessen is the magic dust, it's the thing that does it, it's trivially different than the empty of has one oxygen substitution on the ring in the four position that is just makes it just different enough that it is orally active. And in some ways, it's a superior for most orally active DMT, to what we were looking for when we eventually found ou kouhei it proved to be fairly disappointing. And of course, in the Amazon, the other orally active form of DMT, that you'll find is Iosco iOS K is you can think of it also listened to as an oral form of DMT. That is potentially aided by the ML inhibitors, the beta car believes in the the other component of the brew with a vine itself called diagnostica. And know that one works too. But you know, if you set out to fewer, a, you know, drug designer or a drug developer, and wanted to make a perfect orally active form of DMT, that is non toxic and compatible with human metabolism and kicks house are a certain way is very potent and profound. You'd cover you couldn't do better than cillessen or silicided. You know, I mean, it's even break into the chemistry that you know, psilocybin is very stable. And that's the form that exists in the mushrooms. So as soon as you ingest the mushrooms, it comes into contact with enzymes that cleave off that phosphate group. And you've you have the active drug. And, you know, it's really, in what in some ways, I think it's the ideal psychedelic.
I agree is it's one of the the only entheogens that's ready to go, right. And I hear so many people trying to extract it and do all this crazy stuff, do it. I'm like, Why? It's ready. It's ready to go pick it and eat it.
Yeah, exactly. You and I are on the same page, I see these people trying to extract it, trying to mix it with beta carboline potentiated. All that doesn't really need potentially. You know, right, if you're, if you're not getting high enough, eat more, you know. And the classic, like Terence McKenna, so called heroic dose is five dried grams. But in fact, you can take a lot more of that, you know, if, if that's not enough for you, I've been corresponding with a fellow recently who says, you know, he takes 30 to 60 dried grams. And I'm sort of like Well, okay, is that really necessary, but the, you know, the interesting thing is he can do that. And it's, it's not there's no toxicity issue. I mean, it is extremely tolerable by the human body. So if if you need, you know, if five grams is not doing it take 10 grams, you know, take 20, whatever works for you, you know you can, because you don't have to worry about overdosing, I don't think a lethal dose has been failed for for silicides. Now, interestingly, they have found recently that some of these mushrooms do actually contain beta carb leaves as well, which which was recent, the frame free, kind of surprising. And, but whether that has much to do with the activity, I don't think so because of course, you can take pure silica doesn't. It's, it's quite, it's quite active, it's really distinguishable from mushrooms. So, so the magic is in the molecule and other molecules may help to potentiate it, but it's not necessary.
It's really an entheogen for the people to especially when you learn about all the options out there, mushrooms are one of the most sustainable and something you can bring into your own home. You know, compared to many other entheogens, the preparation of psilocybin or mushrooms is just, you know, you got to cultivate, you got to grow your own jar bag. And that has some challenges to it for sure. But it's not nearly as taxing or as heavy as something like LSD, DMT, ayahuasa like you have to go to the corners of the earth to find some of these.
And thanks to you, Dennis, and your brother to make these techniques more, you know, layman, right, it was really you guys who brought it to the US and it made it and the world nonetheless, and made these techniques available for people to do on a low budget. and reliable too, as well. There's so many techniques for growing mushrooms, but to make it cheap and reliable. And something that someone who has no mushroom experience can pick up, including myself, I thoroughly enjoyed your book when I was I was getting first into mushroom. So so thank you and and that's kind of a good segue from your trip to watch her era of. I'm sure you had spores floating around on on your jacket or something like that. And they just happened to weigh on a petri plate or some No, no.
It wasn't that way at all, actually. So this, this does relate back to luxuria. Because, you know, a lot of the ideas that we have, in this, this these prolonged altered states that much rarer than these crazy notions that we had about singing to the mushroom, and we were going to manifest the transcendental object at the end of time and all this stuff. Well, all of that was bunk. Right? In the end of the day, it turned out to be bug, what wasn't bug was that it really did have an impact, because we collected the spores. And we we did it we deliberately collected that we did that didn't, you know, we made spore print. We brought them back and we fiddled around with them for a couple of years, actually, we were we were utterly clueless how to do it. But we learned how to do it. And then we develop this method, which as you say, you know, had was accessible to any reasonably patient, you know, nerdy 10th grader with with time on their hands wanted to muck around the basement, and anybody could learn it, you know, sometimes with one or two false starts So, and that put the mushrooms into the hands of anyone that really wanted them and was willing to invest a little time. And then in some sense, I do. Say we can, you know, if if latura had an impact, this was the impact, you know, nothing that violated the laws of physics or that was supernatural or anything, we just brought the spores back figured out how to grow these critters, you know, and the original, you know, impulse for that. I mean, there was a mercenary aspect, I will admit, but the real reason we wanted to do this was we wanted to get the mushrooms out so that other people could have these experiences. and confirm or disconfirm what we had experienced, you know, and so we wanted to spread it out. But of course, people confirmed it Yod five grams and up, it gets really pretty strange out there. So. So that was the motivation. And then and I think as a result of that, you know, the mushrooms penetrated into society, you know, LSD was still around, but you had to know where to get it. Anybody could walk down to the grocery store, get the ingredients for growing mushrooms, get a home canning cooker, and just do it, you know, and easily grow the mushrooms for themselves with all their friends. It was pure, you don't have to get didn't have to get involved with international drug cartels or anything like that. So it was a good thing. I mean, it was really a good a good thing to do. And, you know, I think one of the things that Terrence and I can be most proud of and it's kind of ironic that we had to, we felt it the way that we needed to publish the book under pseudonyms. But that's okay. You know, the word got out, of course, as you, as you guys well know, is anybody who works with mushrooms, no. There are other ways to do it easier ways. Now, certainly ways using sterilized substrates and that kind of stuff. You don't have to do this jar method, which is a pretty intense, intensive, labor intensive, but it works. And it's a precursor to making spawn anyway, as you know. So anybody that can make spawn can do this, you don't use don't take it out of the jars, you just put it in the casing soil, and eventually the mushrooms will, will manifest. So it's it's a neat technique that any intelligent eighth grader can figure out, you know, and many did, apparently, you know?
Yeah, this book was, like, probably very monumental literature for curious people out there. But when this was happening, I'm sure the hardest thing for some people was to just find spores, maybe, maybe not. But could you speak to how you were getting the actual fungus into people's hands?
Well, so after we, after we got back when we're growing the mushrooms and so on, my brother, his, and his wife at the time, started a little mail order company called zizza, G. And, and they, they sold spore prints, you know, and they spoke, sold spore prints of this Amazonian strain, which is what we have, which was one of the most more potent strains. So you could just order them online. And they would send you a very nicely designed little folder with a couple of microscope slides in there with the spores on them. cap was an artist, so she decided that the cover and that business was very successful, you know, and then other people were, were doing it too. And that's how that's how it got out. And then some states actually prohibited the sale of spores, even though there was no, you know, there was no silicided than the spores. So I don't know that anybody ever legally challenged that, because, you know, it would be potentially it could be done, but, but anyway, that that's how people got it. And then and then of course, you know, people would take those spores, they would grow them and then they would share the mushrooms and the spores with their friends. So it's spread throughout society, the way plants even though mushrooms are not plants, but the way these things do, you know, they're in the best way, you know, person to person. People have always traded plants across the back fence, you know, this is what gardeners do. This is what plant people do. So once the seeds were out there, to the hands of enough people just kind of spread organically through society. And of course, as your own work has shown, you know, it's fun to work with fungi. I mean, it's fun to have fun with fungi as as as, as Aldous Huxley said it's it's better to have fun with fungi than idiocy with ideology which Pretty much summed it up, and mushrooms are fun to play with and grow, and so on. So, a lot of people, you know, and you're, you're a good example of people that got fascinated by this, develop better ways to grow, and, you know, started growing other kinds of mushrooms. And because we know that mushrooms have all kinds of good properties, medicinal properties, it's not just the psychoactive ones. So this is, this is an example of what you know, I mean, I think these relationships with mushrooms have existed for a long time, and it's getting a lot of publicity. Now, you know, there's been articles in the New York Times, recently about, you know, mushrooms are all over the place. But this is a symbiosis. This is an example of a very good example of symbiosis, like we talked about in the book, you know, and symbiosis is something that, you know, we, we need to do, we need to do we need more of that, you know, symbiosis with mushrooms and other plants and so on, and just these mutually beneficial relationships with, with plants. You know, this is what drives evolution. And, and, you know, and, and, you know, I mean, I think, as you know, a lot of people actually believe that, that early symbiotic relationships with with us as we evolve, probably had a lot to do with the origins of consciousness and language and, and made us what we are, you know, conscious beings, I think that the, I think that the mushrooms have been, because Alex made a good point, you know, another important point, no preparation necessary, you know, these are technology, these are something like Iosco, you have to, you know, it's a rather sophisticated preparation, you have to know what you're doing mushrooms, all you have to do is have curiosity enough to bend over and pick it needed, no process it needed. So it's something that potentially could have existed in the environment that hominids evolved in, in Northern Africa, from about two and a half million years to, to the present on up, we know that that's the environment that these that hominids, you know, evolved in in that region, we know that it was a lot wetter, paleo climatology tells us that that, you know, it was not the desert that it is now, it was much more tropical, wet environment. We know that there were cattle in this environment, or there were the precursors of cattle, wild cattle, essentially, the precursors, they the ancestors of the of what's now that say, blue cattle. So you've got, you know, all three factors in this environment, you know, the mushrooms, the the, the, the hominids, for sure, we've got fossil evidence of that, you know, the cattle for sure, we've got, we've got fossil evidence of that we've got the Paleo Climatic Data, you know, and then the mushrooms, as you know, is a reasonable inference. I mean, there's no, you know, mushrooms don't last 2 million years and the fossil record, they don't last very long at all, because they're soft tissues. But it's a reasonable supposition that they were probably in that environment at that time. So inevitably, these evolving hominids would have eaten these these things, and, you know, once eaten, lights wouldn't go on, you know, and I think, and I think that, you know, it could be the, the effects could be long lasting, it wasn't as simple as like, you know, they ate mushrooms, and suddenly they became smart. You know, I don't think it was that simple. I think it was that these population was consumed mushrooms, and they had effects on neuroplasticity and brain development. We know from from laboratory studies, now the psilocybin increases caught activity in the parts of the brain, where consciousness, you know, is seated in the neocortex of this sort. thing this is, this is a measured effect. This is this is not speculation, this is hard science, you know, and we know that the brain is neuro plastic that the brain can actually change in response to influences from its environment, you know, chemical and other influences. So, mushrooms would have been one of those things that would trigger this increase in, in neural complexity and neural contact connectivity over again, we're talking time spans of hundreds of 1000s of years that this could have taken place. And then the other mechanism that we know about now that we didn't know about a few years ago, is epigenetics. And epigenetics is another mechanism where the environment can modulate gene expression, you know, feedback from the environment can influence gene expression. So, it's a way that these changes in brain structure could be transmitted actually from generation to generation without having to invoke the usual mechanisms, which are through the the gametes, you know, the sperm and the egg. But we now know that epigenetics is another way that traits can be acquired by species and transmitted across generations. So that was undoubtedly happening. And it it, you know, there there is a tendency to dismiss the the idea of the stoned ape theory. I mean, I don't like the way that if it's phrased that way, but there's a tendency to dismiss this. But if you look at the evidence that, you know, the reasonable inference that we did evolve in the presence of these mushrooms, you know, I think this idea goes from maybe plausible, maybe not plausible to, you know, more than likely, this where I put it, I say, more than likely, the, the influence of this symbiotic relationship over time, contributed to our, the development of our imagination, our cognitive ability, or linguistics abilities, all of these things.
I really wish richard nixon knew all this when he was, the world would be a much different place. And, you know, it's pretty ballsy of you to it was, what, five, six years after the war on drugs was established, and psilocybin was made illegal in the United States that you wrote this book under? pseudonyms, nonetheless, but that was a huge move in the right direction of putting us back on on track. No, and, and I'm curious if that was also the reason for founding your co founding that Haffner foundation of putting this research and solidifying it and making it acceptable.
In a way, I mean, my brother had nothing to do with founding the hefter Institute. But yes, it was a step in the right direction, and it kept the conversation alive, even though psychedelics were, you know, maligned, and of course, prohibited. There's a lot of people, you know, there was a abundance of negative publicity about them, which turns out to be mostly propaganda. But it kept the conversation alive. And it also kept it gave people the means to look into this for themselves. You know, if they grew the mushrooms, if they were curious, they could, they could try the mushrooms for themselves and carefully explore what they were about, and come to the conclusion that, hey, these things are not the horos that they've been portrayed to be. These experiences are great actually beneficial. The hefter Institute was I think, we were founded in 1992 or 1993. And I was one of the founders, I was on the founding. I was a founding board member and still am part of the hefter. And but that was a bunch of basically nerds, scientists, chemists, pharmacologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and so on, that most of whom were academically affiliated one way or another who felt that these substances had therapeutic application. So that was the basic idea of founding of the hefter Institute was that, you know, to do good science to explore what they might be good for what they might be used for therapeutically, and then to hopefully eventually get to approval for them to be used in, you know, in medicine. And I don't think when we started the hefter Institute, we, we dared to imagine that it would come to what we're seeing today, you know, but, you know, the fact it's, like, total of indication, total success. Now, everybody is excited about psychedelic some bringing psychedelics in, into medicine, you know, with all the, the, the, you know, the conundrums that that create, that creates everything comes with its own set of challenges, you know, ethical and otherwise, but certainly, it's better than prohibition. I mean, the fact is, there's enough scientific evidence that they can help many people that were other things have not been able to, and there's active investigation now of many of the psychedelics and yet psilocybin is still pretty much the superstar you know, these other psychedelics have their uses and I'm all for encouraging research and all that things like Ibogaine, Ibogaine, for example. You know, like, specialize seems to be particularly effective for addiction. And this work should go forward, but really silicided this still, again, the perfect human, clinically, suitable, psychedelic, you know, it's, it's, it's non toxic, you can take it in a, you can be in a fairly advanced state of illness or poor health, and you can tolerate it. So it's good for people in terminals situations. You know, it lasts just about the right length of time. And, you know, you can take it in a clinical setting and be home for supper, if you happen to be the therapist ambit. It's a profound psychedelic, it delivers everything one might want from a psychedelic experience. So, so no wonder everybody is trying to figure out, you know, how to develop these psychedelics and cash in and make money. But psilocybin is still the kind of at the center of this focus. And it's interesting how, you know, because it is because it's such a simple molecule. You know, it's hard to figure it's hard to say, how can how can we make a, you know, an analogue of this statement that we can patent, you know, well, you can make analog you can patent. But I think part of the message from nature is, this is the perfect psychedelic, you don't really need to improve on it, you know?
Yeah, it's really a beautiful thing. Yeah. So I want to get back in our portal and our time machine. And usually, when I think of like the life of Dennis McKenna, it begins in the Amazon, you and Terrance seeking for these things, but prior to that, something prompted you to want to look for this. And could you just talk about maybe your past and like the family environment that you grew up in? And kind of what was the initial catalyst for you and your brother, or your community to dedicate time and really look for these in?
Yeah, it's not as exciting as you might think. I mean, Terrence and I, we grew up together in this very small town in Colorado, western Colorado, very conservative town. And my brother was four years older than I was, and he actually left this town Pei onea, Colorado, where we grew up, he left for California, when he was to complete his junior and senior year of high school, out in California, living with my aunt and uncle who happened to live in Los Altos in the Bay Area. So he really pushed for that. And he was the person being four years older, and I'm being like the little brother. And, you know, essentially I worshipped him in a certain way. I thought he was really cool. I'm wanted to be alone his parade, you know. And you know, we had all the issues that siblings have, we have a lot of sibling rivalry and conflicts, but actually, when they moved to California, we got, we got a lot a lot better. And I would look forward to him coming back at Christmas time over summer. And we sort of discovered, and so I was free to, you know, develop my own intellectual interests. And he was out there being indoctrinated and immersed in the emerging counterculture of which, of course, psychedelics were a big part. So he was very curious about those things. And it was almost like, you know, when you come home for Christmas vacation, or summertime, it was like a traveler coming from an exotic land and tele these wild tales about what was going on. And I was like, Damn, I'm just stuck in this Podunk town, I just hate this place. I don't want anything from this place, except to get out of here. You know, and that was kind of terraces attitude, too. And he loved his parents so much that they eventually said, Oh, all right, you can do that. And I did too, later, but I didn't get to go to California, I got to finish high school over High School, that's 70 miles away for my senior year. But the thing is, so so Terence was, was a big influence. But the thing is, before that before, while we were both still there, you know, I would have to say that my father was a big influence for us. Not that he wanted to be, you know, he was, you know, he was this post war generation, you know, he'd been in the war, he came back from the war, all he wanted to do was settle down and have a normal life, right. And he would always talk about, you know, having a normal life and being an average guy. And, you know, and I used to, we used to have these arguments about that. And he would say, he would say, you know, Den, the average guy just wants to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, you know, at which point I would explode that, I would say, you're not an average guy. And why would you want to be an average guy who wants to be an average guy, you know, and in fact, he really wasn't. But he wouldn't admit it. I mean, he was he was a very interesting guy. He read a lot of like, his friends. He used to bring home, fate magazine. And all these science fiction, these pulp science fiction magazines that you could buy on the newsstands, like our era, log science fiction, amazing science fiction, and all that. So he was a science fiction lover. And he was fate magazine had a lot of, you know, a lot of it was, it's still published. I mean, it still exists very much like it used to be it had a lot of articles about, you know, UFOs, and the paranormal and all this. And psychedelics, you know, they had articles like, called tail in the magic land of, of mescaline, and, you know, the Peruvian dream route. And all of these things. And I don't know, if my dad knew that these things were about psychedelics, but this was among what you could find in fake magazines. So he would bring these these magazines home to us. And kind of casual, you know, they were just around and Terrence and I would just be all over this stuff, you know. And so at an early age, like from the age maybe 10 to 16 or so, you know, we got very interested in what you might call strange things, you know, the paranormal, UFOs, aliens. All of this stuff was fascinating to us, you know, and, and so then, so that was kind of our mindset. We had an interest in the esoteric in the strange, you know, and, and so then, in the popular literature, there were articles appearing about psychedelics once in a while, Life magazine put out an issue about LSD and of course in 1960 In 1957, the big article by Gordon awasum, in Life magazine came out, I was only six at the time, so I couldn't even, you know, I couldn't even read that well at that point. But, but that was there. And we were reading these things, and we thought, you know, this, what it was to us. And this is interesting, you know, way maybe that we came to psychedelics that most people didn't, it was, it was not about spirituality, it was not about shamanism. We discovered those things later, you know, but our original fascination with psychedelics was, had to do with being able to visit other dimensions, you know, and this was a concept very much in part of science fiction. And then all of a sudden, were reviewed articles will say, Hey, you know, here's something that could actually let you do that, you know, go to another dimension, or visited in your head at least. And that was a big motivation for, for going to lecture era and kind of informed the whole, you know, sort of mindset of our quest. It was not like, we were looking for spiritual enlightenment, particularly, we were approaching this, like, engineers, you know, we wanted to build a machine out of our own bodies, that would enable us to visit other dimensions. And you know, and it's ironic because my dad, you know, who was very invested in be than average guy and fitted in and this whole herd mentality thing, unbeknownst to him, he was he was planting the seeds in our heads that made us such, such nerds, you know, and I'm sure he would have been appalled if he if he'd known if he thought about it, because he was absolutely totally against drugs. I mean, when we, you know, let him know that we were experimenting with psychedelics, it was like a big freakout, I mean, a serious freakout on his part, you know, cuz he wanted nothing to do with that. And, you know, it was very threatening to him, you know, and I think in part, it was probably threatening, because he had read enough science fiction and fate magazine and all that, that he on some level realized that, that is a real thing. You know, I mean, as long as it was safely in these migraines safely in these books, it was like fiction, it was like something you read about, but you know, what your boys are actually trying to, you know, break into other dimensions, then that becomes fairly alarming. And he was, you know, he was, you know, it was that. And then also, of course, he was alarmed with, you know, all the misconceptions about drugs that were quite prevalent at the time, you know, that these things were addicting, that they would drive you crazy, that you jump off bridges, and, and all of this stuff, all the usual propaganda that was out there. So naturally, he was afraid for us, you know, and he wanted us to have nothing to do with it. And it took a long time for I don't know if he was ever convinced, but you know, as, as we, as we grew older, and actually began to, you know, make Careers Out of psychedelics and that sort of thing, then he was kind of more receptive to it, and never totally convinced, but but he came to realize that, you know, well, the boys don't seem to be crazy. I mean, they're plenty weird, but they're functional, and they're not crazy. So, so he grudgingly accepted that maybe these things were not quite that bad, you know. So that's, that's how it was.
And you probably have one of the best perspectives that of, of anyone on this globe as someone who, you know, was around pre drug and psychedelic prohibition, and then through prohibition, to present day, and then grew up in that environment that, you know, wasn't in your early childhood wasn't truly exposed to and do gins and to have a father who is opposed to it, and then yourself going in the very deep end of of that proverbial, you know, sophisticated ape spaceship traveling in many different dimensions. Where are you now with this new paradigm like where? How do you envision society in this in this new posts? prohibition space, do you see psilocybin being fully legal? Do you? Do you want some sort of regulations behind it? I myself, and I'm a little conflicted, because on one hand, it's you know, these are just mushrooms that people can do whatever they want with it. But on the other hand, it's like you take too much. Yeah. Don't don't get behind it. Yeah. an automobile. Right. So So where is that line? And it is a really great question. Especially because there's, there's many people in our world and, you know, I, and they come in all shapes and forms, and some people, I don't trust them with some entheogens. And I don't know what they would do.
So well, these are these are very good question. Alex, I think we're, I think we're working it out. I think that, you know, we're learning how to use these things responsibly. And we're learning how to make them, how to integrate them into our society, we it doesn't work to try to, we're not indigenous people. So we can't really, we can learn from indigenous people, we can borrow that knowledge and try to integrate it into the way that we relate to these and Theo gyms, I have, you know, with respect to suicide, but itself, I think that there should be some regulation, you know, not prohibition, I think prohibition does not work. But I think that in the medical context, you know, you want, there should be some regulation, light regulation. And it should more have to do with education about how to appropriately use the substances. And maybe what I would like to see is, I think all of these things should be decriminalized across the board. And then I think I'd like to see community centers, which a lot of them exist already, but they're underground, so you don't know. But they would have the, they would have the opportunity to come into the open and say, you know, we are a community center, we offer a range of wellness, you know what, so like a wellness center, you could come here and do some yoga, you can learn about, you know, nutrition, you can do various, you know, alternative wellness therapies, if you want, and you can, you can do psychedelics under controlled conditions under, you know, supervised conditions in the right ceremonial context, I think, and that's important, you know, to have that. So develop something like the retreat centers that you have, you know, in various places, but more adapted to our own society. And I think that I think if that's the way that these, these substances can be brought to people where the emphasis is on education, you know, and centers like that would offer education, that's the key to the whole thing is educate people, just like any powerful technology, educate people there. So there's an appropriate way to use these things, you know, some, some simple guidelines to avoid harm, and just minimize the bad effects, minimize the adverse effects and maximize the benefits from these things. And that starts with education. So I'd like to see the centers, you know, and they, they could offer even courses and classes about, you know, how to use these things, maybe without actually dispensing them. It's like, Okay, if you want to come to the center, and have one of these programs, you have to take this, you know, either an online course or come to a seminar where we will discuss what's appropriate, you know, in a non judgmental way, but just disseminating information, and, you know, real information, not bullshit propaganda, which is what drug so called education is now, you know, and I really think that's the key is just educating people how to use them. I feel that you know, silicided or something like that maybe should be regulated in some way. You know, Not as a schedule one substance, but just more or less with regard to purity and the formulation and that kind of stuff. And I don't think that mushrooms or any of these plants should be prohibited in and of themselves. You know, in fact, I think that, you know, lately I've been talking about how we have a right to form symbiosis with any of these plants with any plant at all, you know, maybe it's not even psychoactive, maybe it happens to taste good, or, you know, be good food, that's a kind of symbiosis as well, people should have a fundamental right to form symbiosis that should be articulated. And because we're talking about alliances with non human organisms, you know, it's not even a human right, it's an organism ik, right. And I think that that's a part of this evolutionary process that we're going forward. We've been co evolving with these things for probably millions of years. Now, we're reaching a point where we can just be clear about that, that yes, we are engaged in a in a co evolutionary process with these plant allies, these plant teachers, if you want to call them that, but maybe allies is a better term. And that should be something that we have a right to do. You know, and, and, but but I think the, the core and the key to all of this is educating people how to do it, you know, people don't get too much up in arms. if, if, you know, you say, Well, you know, so you want to drive a car? Well, you have to learn how to do that, you know, and we'll give you a license, and then you can do it. Unfortunately, the same kind of rationale doesn't seem to apply to guns in our country. But it's the same idea. You know, and so when it comes to these drugs, you know, we live in an environment that is, you know, where it's saturated with drugs of all kinds, you know, we cannot avoid taking drugs, you know, even if we don't want to, a lot of things we consume daily are psychoactive drugs, we don't think of them that way. But coffee and tea, these kinds of things. These are psychoactive drugs. Fortunately, they're usually benign. But since we live in a drug saturated society, what we have to do is learn about the drugs and make informed choices about which drugs we choose to use, you know, because when you choose to use a drug, you're choosing a relationship, you're choosing to form a relationship, call it a symbiotic relationship. So you should approach it thoughtfully. And from an informed standpipe, just like, you should choose your friends carefully. It's the same kind of thing. You don't hang out with people that you don't admire that you don't appreciate who, you know. So the same, the same sort of thinking applies to what drugs do you choose to consume? And why do you consume them? And how do you consume them? You know, if you make that choice, so that's the that's what I think that's I think we have to mature into it. And I think that the fact that it's becoming much more open, and we're able to talk about that, that's, that's very encouraging.
Thank you for trailblazing a lot of that education. That's what it's all about your interns a lot. So yeah. Well, I know you gotta boogie.
I'm sorry about that. I wish we could continue but I think we covered a lot of it. What we'll save it for round 2, we'll be in touch about around. But in the meantime, this was so eloquent. That it's been a pleasure.