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An Evening with Dennis McKenna: The Renaissance in Psychedelic Research and Growing up with Terence

January  24, 2014
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


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An Evening with Dennis McKenna: The Renaissance in Psychedelic Research and Growing up with Terence

Join ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna as he discusses his new book, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna, as well as the emerging renaissance in psychedelic research. No longer "under the radar," psychedelics are getting a lot of press and positive attention for their potential medical applications for treatment of PTSD, end of life anxiety, addictions, and much more. In addition to reading passages from his book, Dennis will show clips from the just-released documentary by award-winning filmmaker Oliver Hockenhull: Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines, which he describes as "really the best educational documentary on this topic to come along in some time." Q & A and stimulating conversations will follow! Signed copies of the book and DVD will be available for purchase.

Dennis McKenna is an ethnopharmacologist who has studied plant hallucinogens for over forty years. He is the author of many scientific papers, and co-author, with his brother Terence McKenna, of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, and Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide. He holds a doctorate from the University of British Columbia, where his research focused on ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, two hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. He received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine. In 1990, he joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology, and in 1993 became the Aveda Corporation's Senior Research Pharmacognosist. Dennis has been an adjunct assistant professor at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota since 2001, where he teaches courses in ethnopharmacology and botanical medicine. He has taught summer field courses in Peru and Ecuador, and has conducted fieldwork throughout the upper Amazon. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.

Friday, January 24, 2014
CIIS Main Building
$10/$15 at the door

This event co-sponsored by ERIE: Entheogenic Research Integration & Education>>


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Terence McKenna and his younger brother, Dennis, grew up in a small town in Western Colorado during the 1950s and turbulent '60s. In 1971, they joined three other kindred spirits on a journey into the upper Amazon, a ragtag band they lightly dubbed the "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss." They fully expected their quest for a legendary hallucinogen to change everything forever, which it did, though in ways they'd never imagined.

Over the following decades, the two brothers took different paths, but their fates and interests remained entwined. Once called "the intellectual's Timothy Leary," Terence emerged in the 1980s and '90s as a radical philosopher, futurist, and raconteur. His "timewave theory," an unorthodox model of history, has played a key role in the various prophecies surrounding the year 2012.

Since Terence's death in 2000, his unorthodox ideas on psychedelic consciousness and other issues have given him a sort of virtual second life. He continues to haunt the Internet, the witty and articulate prophet of an end time he didn't live to see.

Dennis, by choice and inclination, remained in the background, pursuing a career in ethnopharmacology and neuroscience, investigating the same deep mysteries he and Terence had first been drawn to as kids. After Terence's death, Dennis has lived on to witness the dawn of an era that looks a lot like what his charismatic brother had foreseen-a new century as strange and disturbing, as full of hope and despair, as any that humanity has yet endured.

Here, for the first time, Dennis gives his account of the ideas, adventures, and anguishes he and Terence shared-and some they didn't. "Surely our lives were destined to be unique in many ways, as all lives are," he writes. "And yet I've also realized how much Terence and I were the products of our age, our minds and dreams shaped by the cultural influences that touched so many."

This sweeping account will appeal to anyone interested in Terence McKenna, of course, but ultimately it is the story of two men, and two fates, that only Dennis McKenna could tell.

California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103


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The Asian and Comparative Studies program offers intensive studies in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of South and Southeast Asia, China, and the Himalayan regions. Our students encounter world traditions and cultivate an integrative understanding of the personal and the social, the intellectual and the spiritual, the historical and the contemporary. Our students also gain an in-depth understanding of how philosophical and religious thought is deepened by experiential involvement - an important adjunct to intellectual understanding.