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The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens & the I Ching

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,198 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A thoroughly revised edition of the much-sought-after early work by Terence and Dennis McKenna that looks at shamanism, altered states of consciousness, and the organic unity of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 22nd 1994 by HarperOne (first published 1975)
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Oct 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. It’s the last one I am reviewing for 2009, and I am a huge fan of Terence McKenna. But this one fell short for me.

The Invisible Landscape is a collaborative effort between Terence and Dennis McKenna, known in the psychedelia circuit as the “McKenna brothers.” The events of this book took place during 1971, and the inspiration for a lot of the ideas contained within occurred during the La Chorrera experiment, which is explained in Terence’s book True Hallucinati
Jan 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I bought this book at Shaman Drum on State in Ann Arbor during a period of my being on the outs with phonetic language. (RIP Shaman Drum, we miss you). The clerk knew of McKenna's terminal medical condition. (RIP McKenna, though I feel I've gotten to know him better as the internet has gained fidelity). In 1999, I got about 40 pages into the book and could get no further. I shelved the book for 11 years and now I've returned to pick through the dense language for some clue as to what it all mean ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
Put two great minds together, an ethnobotanist & a neurobiologist who happen to be brothers, place them in the depths of the Amazon for a month or so with a plethora of hallucinogenic mushrooms at their disposal & you get this book. This is a great pseudo scientific adventure, a psychedelic faction threaded together with cutting edge theory & stropharia fueled speculation. What does it matter that the ideas put forth in this book don't stand up to scientific scrutiny? According to them, teleolog ...more
Jun 16, 2010 is currently reading it
This book is going to take a long time to read. Virtually every sentence has to be re-read in order to comprehend
Antonin Tuynman
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Invisible landscape by Terence and Dennis McKenna is a very original and unusual book. From a daring shamanistic experiment with hallucinogenic compounds they arrived at insights about a holographic temporal wave (called "time wave zero") based on a fractal of cycles which they could derive from the I Ching.

The first part of the book is about the experiment the brothers McKenna undertook in La Chorrera in the Amazon in which they took a mixture of Ayahuasca and hallucinogenic mushrooms. This
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
This work covers a lot of ground, from organic chemistry to neurophysiology to shamanic traditions, which is both its strength and weakness. There's plenty you can learn about here in a general sense, but McKenna is simply too spaced out to convince with his speculations. The point of the book is to make sense of the author's revelatory drug exeperiences; like most seekers, he caught a glimpse of something, but discursive thought acts as a lens through which the spiritual is seen: in this case, ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Absolutely delicious pseudo-science. Only because It was written by those psilocybin obsessed brothers Terence and Dennis McKenna.
Kjell DM
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is divided in two parts. Part one deals with shamanism, theory of mind, and brain-chemistry both under and not under influence of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and dimethyltryptamine. Part two deals with a speculative theory of time based on a mathematical elaboration on the I Ching.

This whole book is drained with speculation, so if you're not into that kind of thing, don't read it cuz you probably won't make it through to the end.

Below I will try to give a short overview of the two
Ahmad M Bohindi
Sep 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting, strange, hard to understand, truly crazy at times. Only complaint, aside from the far-fetched fringe scientific arguments, which are the reason anyone would read the book to begin with, is the romanticisation of mental illness. Schizophrenia-fetishism is already the psychedelic movement's sin of choice, as observed from the book that probably took ot to the mainstream, Huxley's Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Still this book takes things further. He does say that it is the ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is definitely not an ordinary one. On one hand it introduces the reader to a couple of things that are interesting in themselves (like shamanism, different types of psychedelics, the I Ching) but the recipe of the book seems to be: introduce the reader to a concept/idea + pile facts and anecdotes on top + add wild speculations. To make it harder to read take a semiformal/semi-scientific approach.

So, definitely an interesting read and it will stretch your BS detector to the max. If you
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A sincere exploration into the other-worldly events which occurred at La Chorerra. A theoretical basis for a scientific understanding of the mind is explored in conjunction with a wildly interesting model of time as a hierarchical holographic mathematical object representing novelty and habit in an embedded cyclical fashion.

Extremely intriguing and far before its time, Terence and Dennis layout the foundations of the 21st century paradigm; a picture of reality grounded in both eastern and weste
Benjamin Burge
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chronicling the McKenna's experiment at La Chorrera, this book expands on some of Terence's later work, including: holographic information and the timewave.
This book did a great job filling gaps I had after listening to Mckenna lectures. I was particularly interested in the experiment-- this book delivered an interesting summery.

Jen Garuti
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
People weren't kidding when they say this is a difficult book. I don't often feel like I have no idea what I just read but there were several sections to this book I have no idea what I read haha. There's also a lot of really interesting things in this book and I didn't feel bored even when reading the sections I didn't understand.
Alex Hummel
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Tried to finish this book; but it was unreadable for me after about 1/3 of the way through. Very far out ideas and an interesting introduction on shamanism. die hard McKenna fans might enjoy this more. I recommend True Hallucinations, it has an intro to these ideas and is much more readable.
Tasha Constable
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Veryyy mind boggling... But very interesting information into the mind and time
Batuhan Erdogan
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's as crazy as McKenna says it is!.. :)
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is phenomenal. It changed my life. It's absolutely stunning the way McKenna is able to describe his journeys in to hyperspace.
Maxime Ferland
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished
first few pages on shamanism are quite interesting but when the mathematicals sequence, the i ching and his theory kicks in, i began to loose track
Noah Vickstein
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The so-called intellectual Trojan Horse of the brothers Mckenna is couched in almost inscrutable language, no doubt in an overture to the scientific world of the time. Some of the transitions are a bit lacking, some segues seem rushed, and some of the wording is confusing, but if you can overlook these (minor in my view, given the scope of the content) flaws you will find inspired reasoning that exemplifies the term 'lateral thinking'.

We have three months to determine if Mckenna's intuitions reg
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Some parts of this book are interesting, especially the still culturally relevant statements about shamanism. However, a bulk of the material is very complex, and it dives deep into neuroscience, biology, mathematics, physics, etc. and pulls a bit from many areas to make their case.

There was a portion of one of the last chapters in the first section that I had to skim through to keep myself from losing interest. For attempting to make the point that the validity of some theories are in "the eye
Llewellyn Van Der Berg
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ambitious, fascinating, and a little insane. This is a peek into the initial experiences that gave birth to the McKenna brothers as we know them today.

It should not be read as a scientific report of an experiment, at least not in the traditional sense, for the brothers themselves would be the first to tell you not to let the facts and science get in the way of a good story. Firstly, this is because of the colossal and alien experiences that psilocybin and related tryptamines plunges one into, a
It may be that the psychedelic experience cannot be understood using only the reductionist model of science, and that only by a conscious unification of the reductionist, analytical methods of science with the holistic, nonanalytical approach of the shaman can we hope to understand, appreciate, and apply the lessons learned from such experiences. This book is a first, faltering, step in that direction. (p. xix)

And it is faltering, as well as sprawling and audacious and promethean and probably mo
Feb 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: occult
Dense and written in an academic style, the McKenna brothers put forth a pretty interesting interpretation of consciousness, reality, and time. While some of the theories on drug metabolism have since been disproven, the notion of intercalation of drug molecules is still potentially accurate. While the overarching theory of time and reality appeals to me, I don't know that their method of producing that theory is anything more than some occult numerology dressed up with some complicated mathemat ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, and certain parts of it were thoroughly interesting, especially the first couple of chapters (Shamanism and Schizophrenia in Shamanism) and the in-depth lesson on the I Ching, but overall...meh. I say with full humility that I can trudge through some pretty dense shit, from Hegel to Marx to Carl Jung, but much of this was past dense and just flat out incomprehensible and incoherent. I fully believe that if you have a solid understanding something, or have thought it o ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shamanism, science, chaos
This is one of the most curious books out there. Written in an elaborate language of science the McKenna brothers dive deep into the mechanics of DNA molecule, schizophrenia, shamanic traditions and how it all connects with the fractal nature of the Universe, as predicted by the elaborate mathematics behind I Ching (King Wen sequence from 3000 years ago). A mindfuck indeed!

BUT: the fact of the matter that there are McKenna geniuses behind this thinking makes it all more interesting. Even though
John Van
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book is very thought-provoking. It covers a lot of subjects such as shamanism and hallucinogens, the mathematical and fractal patterns within the I Ching, and how mathematics relates to, explains, and inhabits these things. The Timewave theory is discussed in this book, which is a concept I find endlessly fascinating. Though it isn't mentioned in the book, whether McKenna felt it was irrelevant or didn't know about it, the Timewave theory directly relates to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's the ...more
Garrett Dunnington
I think what McKenna says in this book (which would be the main idea), is that we seem to be stuck in our environmental conditions unless we begin to step outside the tradition, for that is when we begin to travel; when we are truly born. Told in a very obfuscating manner, but my personal bias because I can care less about Science. However, the main idea is very clear, and underneath the rather difficult language is a philosophy of non-conformity. Very brilliant and heavily researched, it can be ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked the first half particularly, in which they lay out a scientific framework of their ideas.

The second part was a bit beyond my comprehension, though, so I don't know if I can accurately rate it. It was an interesting read, but it was just difficult for me to follow the concepts. That being said, many would say the opposite - that the first part was too scientifically dense to make sense, and the second part looped it all together.

Regardless, they were very thorough in their writing
Nov 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who go further into their dreams and theories on reality.
Tough tough read. The first half of the book and closer to the end is readable for the layman. This stuff gets really technical. THe idea that the mind is a hologram is introduced by Terence, and it would seem that he hasn't really heard of Bohm or Talbot or anyone else who wrote about it. Plus Time Wave zero is explained, and it's pretty awesome. Just grasping that is worth a try with this book.
Brian Dean
Oct 25, 2007 marked it as to-read
Another book I dabbled in many years ago only to be left blown away, from dabbling alone. This one seems to be.. well even if it's off the mark or too "out there" it is from my impression, totally incredible for how it makes your mind feel when following along with it. Any book that challenges our normal, egotistic understanding of space and time is good by me
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Lots of beautiful psychedelic information 3 20 Jun 12, 2013 03:28PM  

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Dennis Jon McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He who has studied plant hallucinogens for over forty years.
He earned his Master's degree in botany at the University of Hawaii, and his Doctorate in Botanical Sciences from the University of British Columbia.
Since that time, he has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, C

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