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True Hallucinations

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,528 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Like a lovely psychedelic sophist, McKenna recounts his adventures with psychoactive plants in the Amazon Basin. Either a profoundly psychotic episode or a galvanizing glimpse into the true nature of time & mind, McKenna is a spellbinding storyteller, providing plenty of down-to-earth reasons for preserving the planet.
1 The Call of the Secret
2 Into the Devil's Parad
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 22nd 1994 by HarperOne (NYC) (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,528 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Lee Klein
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Acquired this after reading the first parts of Tao Lin's Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change about McKenna and knowing a bit about him from "The Spirit Molecule," a Netflix documentary about DMT. The day I finished Tao's book, this arrived, as well as a 1100-page ARC I've been looking forward to reading for two years, something I assumed I'd start reading as soon as I removed it from the mailer. But first I decided I'd take a look at this Terence McKenna book -- and then I read like 50 pa ...more
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Terence McKenna is an odd duck. He's one of the most wonderfully verbose non-fiction writers I've ever read. His ramblings are a strange and beautiful combination of extraordinary scientific and metaphysical esoterica with rich and compelling metaphors and genuine, unadorned soul-baring. True Hallucinations was highly entertaining and thought provoking, despite its weak and ambiguous final few chapters.

True Hallucinations is the surreal account of the bizarre adventures of Terence McKenna, his b
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Besides being a brilliant orator, philosopher, mathematician, and social analyst, Terence shows he can write non-fiction in a manner that captures the reader's imagination and takes one on a journey to the edge of known civilization. I listened to the book on tape and Terence did the reading - which was excellent. I highly recommend people find as many Terence Mckenna audio files of his talks regarding society, time, hallucinogenics, and his intriguing theory derived from the I Ching. Also, he h ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
Well... the journey is interesting. But I'm going to go out there and say it: this guy is nuts. The ampersand is holy and there are UFOs and James Joyce was reincarnated in a chicken and you can see back in time if you think of his brother's name and say "please." He has these profound theories about the world, but it's after doing a crazy amount of mushrooms and hallucinogenic jungle drugs. What he really needed was a separate, sober party to say, 'Um, Terrence? That's not actually a UFO, that' ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: McKenna fans & psychonauts
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley
Shelves: biography
This is, more than anything, an autobiographical account focusing on the genesis and development of the author's ideas regarding time.

I've long liked McKenna, primarily as an inspired speaker, recordings of him being a delight to listen to. Also, as someone more experienced with altered states induced by psychtropics, I must needs respect his opinions. One opinion in particular, however, has perplexed me since first encountering it, viz. the 'time-wave zero' business and the weight he put on th
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I really enjoyed this book. Am I getting old and yearn for the carefree days of my youth when experimentation with mushrooms was exciting and new? Perhaps.

My impression is that McKenna was presenting his ideas as possibilities, not absolutes. Being able to translate what the author says into something that's agreeable with your own sensibilities is necessary if you are to get the most from True Hallucinations. If you expect McKenna to speak directly to you in a manner that w
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is far-out, man. I was having multi-hued Castaneda flashbacks. Reading this account of the search for the ultimate mushroom trip—which would connect the author to ancient wisdom drawn from the planet’s roots and first brought to Earth by UFO (an oversimplification, of course)—is like watching ‘My Dinner with Andre’ and having only Andre talk. McKenna is an entertaining writer but I was often lost in the cosmic goo of his sentences. I had the same reaction to some of Robert Graves’ ‘The Whit ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is about a journey the author took with his brother and some friends in South America in 1971, seeking hallucinogenic mushrooms as part of an experiment, I guess he thinks to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything? It was actually just a hippie steeped in superstition and hallucination, camping with some buddies and getting high. It talks about hyperspace, UFOs, some magical harmonic that is in tune with the universe, and astrology. He seems to think this counts as science.

Michael Miley
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A classic of psychedelic drug literature. More later
Michael Lankford
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I appreciate his storytelling and experiences as such but there is a lot of woo, pseudoscience, and plain nonsense within this book which was unnecessary.
The Other plays with us and approaches us through the imagination and then a critical juncture is reached. To go beyond this juncture requires abandonment of old and ingrained habits of thinking and seeing. At that moment the world turns lazily inside out and what was hidden is revealed: a magical modality, a different mental landscape than one has ever known, and the landscape becomes real. This is the realm of the cosmic giggle. UFOs, elves, and the teeming pantheons of all religions are the d
Tom Schulte
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't care if it is ultimately to me a bunch of over-educated hippies tripping and mythologizing near the Putumayo River in South America. I love hearing Mckenna courageously objectify the psychedelic experience into "vegetable TV" and intelligent mushrooms propagating themselves through the galaxy by opening doors to other dimensions to fortunate species as ourselves. Plus: bonus cameos from UFOs and absolute zero.

Thus audiobook includes songs and sounds from Nomad Band (probably a one-off pr
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
after a 1/3 into the book, I just couldn't take it anymore. either way I will rate it and give my comments.

although it seemed as a nice travel adventure and some descriptions of the Amazon vibe are just spectacular, mckenna is clearly off. maybe two years ago this would have been interesting to me. now (with more experience under my belt and no longer so much naivete), he is clearly delusional and the way he and his brother persuade themselves they are doing 'science' is just pathetic.
Harrison King
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, wild tale. No one thinks or writes like McKenna, and I doubt anyone else ever will in his specific way. As he puts it, this is a ripping good story.
Kjell DM
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author narrates with compelling eloquence some of his most profound experiences with shamanic substances that have been the basis for all of his later work on the subject. I agree that the theories seem very far out on the fringes of what is to be taken serious, a lot of the times actually, but Terence emphasizes his awareness of this and encourages the reader to take on a skeptical a stance towards his theories as they can, because, after all, "A good idea is not fragile and can withstand a ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Essentially billed as a recollection of the La Chorrera experiment, with a brief explanation of Terence’s Timewave theory, True Hallucinations is an impressive piece of work. It is definitely the clearest writing of Terence’s that I have sampled so far.

After the death of his mother in 1971, Terence, his brother Dennis, and three friends found themselves in the Colombian Amazon in search of oo-koo-hé, a psychoactive plant concoction containing DMT. At Dennis’ insistence, Terence and one of their
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm a fan of McKenna and his psilocybin-inspired ramblings, but this book made me think the dude was just completely out of his mind. Wouldn't recommend. ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of McKenna since first encountering his online lectures and YouTube videos.

Here is a witty voice that very matter-of-factly describes and espouses his experiences and extrapolations via the world of psychedelics and hallucinogens. He does so with a wry sense of humor and great prose, although he does, at times, become a bit verbose in using his vast collection of esoteric scientific vernacular.

There were times that it felt like nonsensical information overload.

Other than this se
Igor Packo
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I enjoy reading about other people's drug experience and theories, but this book felt like just too much. It started with some history about Terrence, his brother and the rest of the group. Their plan for the big Amazonian adventure and upcoming "scientifical breakthrough" ... which didn't come. Most of it was just rambling about pseudoscience and them tripping their balls off. I felt like the author himself got lost and too deep in his thoughts and imaginaries which he tried to present as "the ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the feeling that I would have given this a higher rating if Terence had been reading it. Fortunately, I've heard enough of Terence's voice that I can superimpose it over the very dry reading given by Al Kessel. Boring, dude.

This seems to be written as an amplification of his notes and diary from a trip to the Amazon area to explore the natural drugs available there, record the effects, and contribute to the knowledge, difficult to come by in any age, but particularly interesting to the c
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing, bizare, surreal account of the adventures of Terrence McKenna, his brother Dennis, and a small band of friends on there wild ride of exotic experience and scientific inquiry. Exploring the Amazon Basin in search of mythical shamanic hallucinogens to discover the missing link in the development of human conciousness and language. Time Wave Theory, and many other fascinating hypothosis are communicated and studied as they experiment on themselves ingesting mushrooms found in the Amazo ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
The beginning of this book was really interesting and full of wonderful prose. However, the second of half of the book is an absolute slog through a fever dream of pseudoscientific gibberish. Psychedelics have so much promise to help people in a variety of ways and the experiences derived from them can be incredibly powerful to the individual. But, McKenna loses his footing completely trying to forge personal exploratory experience into some semblance of reasonable scientific thought outside of ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent as a McKenna's propaedeutic book. The story itself is very amusing (I especially love the chapter where he writes about a specific wild adventure he experienced with a friend while in Kathmandu, when he had an OOBE orbiting the planet), written in an exquisite style, as if weaving a rich tapestry of words. He's very self-conscious in every single word. Either fiction or fact, it's quite an experience if you're reading him for the first time, like I was, back in 2004. ...more
Steven Casteel
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I recently read Food of the Gods and was intrigued by the plausibility of McKenna's claims. True Hallucinations, not so much.

The trip report stuff was interesting, but it too often delved into explanations of hyper carbolation, UFOs, the alchemy stone, and making all sorts of pseudo scientific claims based off of nothing but their experiences tripping balls on mushrooms. There was so much BS that it was difficult to finish this book.
Maarten Naple
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The wonderful ravings of the odd psychedelic duck. Love it.
Marius Vava
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is that they had balls of steel to do what they did when they did it... and also... they crazy! 😂❤️ Awesome book either way!
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Off you go to the steaming jungles of Amazonian Colombia in search for potent shamanic psychedelics with this book :p
Not long into reading our party of adventurers has found the more conventional magic mushrooms and ayahuasca but there is no telling if they will ever find the mysterious oo-koo-hé.
Terence recounts an epic sexual experience under the influence of LSD and DMT in Nepal.
Terence and Dennis discuss the possibility of a mysterious hyperdimensional translinguistic substance called into b
Terrance McKenna has always been a prolific name in the field of psychedelic studies and the of entheogens. This story/tale of intrigue proves that fact even more.

The time is 1971 and a group of rag tag explorers set out to find an infamous compound that has only successfully documented at the time once, from a tribe of natives(Witoto) called Oo-Koo-He. A DMT resin wrapped in the ashes of burned trees, the ashes acting as MAO-inhibitors creating a similar trip to ayahuasca. They travel to the M
Marissa Jager
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The journey that led me to this book has been a long and interesting one. I had wanted to take magic mushrooms spiritually long before I heard of Terence McKenna, but after a friend introduced me to his talks and I watched the film Fantastic Fungi, I knew it was time. Summer of 2020 was life changing for me. Pure fucking magic. It showed me dimensions of this world I had only hoped were real. I started with 2.5 grams. Then 3.5 grams. Then the heroic dose of 5 grams, as Terence would call it. I s ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read this book during a grim winter lockdown in cold Germany. I can't explain how much joy it brought me! I was instantly transported into the wonders of the warm Amazon rainforest on a psilocybin-fuelled expedition with Terence and his companions, in the wonderful hippy days of yore.
Overall, one of the most riveting, eye-opening, enlightening and FUN non-fiction books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I'm no scientist so I don't particularly care if the concepts don't hold up in the c
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Terence Kemp McKenna was a writer, philosopher, psychonaut and ethnobotanist. He was noted for his knowledge of the use of psychedelic, plant-based entheogens, and subjects ranging from shamanism, the theoretical origins of human consciousness, and his concept of novelty theory.

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“Our self discoveries make us each a microcosm of the larger pattern of history. The inertia of introspection leads toward recollection, for only through memory is the past recaptured and understood. In the fact of experiencing and making the present, we are all actors.” 34 likes
“When we look within ourselves with psilocybin, we discover that we do not have to look outward toward the futile promise of life that circles distant stars in order to still our cosmic loneliness. We should look within; the paths of the heart lead to nearby universes full of life and affection for humanity.” 14 likes
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