True Love: Terence McKenna and Weed
Terence McKenna and weed had an interesting and profound relationship throughout his life.
When you think of Terence McKenna and weed, what comes to mind? Well, if your brain is any way wired like mine, you might picture one of the greatest psychedelic superhero’s ever.
Terence painted masterpieces with words, taking you down rabbit holes you never even knew existed. But long before those days, he was a nervous kid who struggled in social situations, like many of us do. That took a slight turn during an Easter Vacation in 1965, which turns out to be the first weed experience Terence McKenna ever had. In the Cannabis Trialogue, McKenna shares some wonderful insights into the relationship he had with marijuana.
Shortly after first encountering it, Terence realized he could “self-medicate myself to normalcy,” coming to what felt like a “revelation” that:
“The mere smoking of a small amount of vegetable material could completely invert the structures of my personality and socialize me, as it were, into a reasonably functioning member of the community in which I found myself.”
Using cannabis in a medicinal way seemed like a perspective that continued on for the majority of his life, proclaiming that:
“If I don’t smoke cannabis, I worry about balancing my checkbook, the state of my immediate short-term career concerns. In other words, all the anxieties of the petit bourgeois pour in to claim my attention. If, on the other hand, I avail myself of cannabis, I’m able to rove and scan through a vast intellectual world that is composed of all the books I’ve ever read, all the people I’ve ever known, all the places I’ve ever been.”
Although Terence was an evangelist for cannabis, who used it as part of his daily practice, he felt that maybe, just maybe, there was a better way:
“I’m an inveterate cannabis user, and I wish in a way that I could get a slightly better grip on my cannabis use, because I think the real way to do cannabis is like once a week, by yourself, in silent darkness, with the strongest stuff you can get, and then immense amounts of it.”
Even though Terence had a hard time heeding to his own advice, weed offered much more than just a tool to introspect in the dark. Counter to the stereotype of the marijuana consumer, McKenna found it only amplified his work ethic:
“I find that when I’m writing books that I can only write for about three hours, and then either the day is finished for work, or I smoke hashish and twenty minutes later I’m ready to go two hours more at it—and I can do that twice in a day. If I judiciously control my intake of cannabis, it like gives me a second wind and a third wind to go forward with creative activity. Now if you just sit down and smoke into a stupor, you’re not going to be able to do this. But if you just stop this now tiresome and boring activity and have a couple of puffs, and then you sit and have a few interesting thoughts, and you feel completely revitalized and able to go back to it.”
Could it be that without that Easter Vacation in 1965, we may never have had the great works of Terence McKenna? Quite possibly.