Tribute to Terence McKenna

A celebration of his life & legacy

April 3, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of legendary Terence McKenna’s passing. Join his brother Dennis McKenna and 7 renowned thought leaders and close friends of Terence during 4 epic events in celebration of his life and legacy.

Guest Speakers

Each guest speaker has shared cherished life experiences with Terence, inspiring the change they lead today in their communities and the world.


Known and beloved by millions, Terence McKenna was a cultural commentator, speaker, author, raconteur, and curious mind who became an iconic figure for the psychedelic community throughout the 80s and 90s. Although he passed away prematurely in early 2000, his provocative ideas about the role of psychedelic mushrooms in human evolution, and his notions about the nature of time, which became known as Novelty Theory, attracted wide attention. His talks and lectures, many still accessible on Youtube and other parts of the internet, have ensured that the ideas he articulated, leading some to characterize him as the ‘Bard’ of psychedelia, are still very much part of the contemporary conversation.


Dennis McKenna is an ethnopharmacologist and the younger brother of Terence McKenna. His research has focused on the interdisciplinary study of Amazonian ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He has conducted ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brasilian Amazon. His doctoral research (University of British Columbia,1984) focused on the ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dennis is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, and was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca used by the UDV, a Brazilian religious group. In 2017, he organized and presented a landmark symposium, the Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 years of Research (ESPD50), commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original conference held in San Francisco in 1967. In the spring of 2019, he founded the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy.


Erik Davis is an author, award-winning journalist, podcaster, and scholar based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of alternative religion, media, and the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. He also wrote Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the celebrated cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998). For a decade, he explored the “cultures of consciousness” on his weekly podcast Expanding Mind, which is currently on hiatus. Erik graduated from Yale University in 1988, and more recently earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University.


Bruce Damer is a chronicler of psychedelic history holding and curating the extant archives of Dr. Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and others. He is also a maven of the history of computing in his Digibarn Computer Museum and an instigator of the mulit-user virtual worlds medium His current work is as a scientist co-authoring and testing a new hypothesis for the origin of life and guiding NASA where life might arise in the universe. He has also spent two decades designing spacecraft and missions for NASA and other space agencies with the objective of opening the solar system to the expansion of life off the Earth. Recently he has put on a philosopher and public thinkers had considering the questions: how did this all come to be, and where is it all going? Lastly, he has begun a practice in the healing arts, learning how the human operating system is written and boots up into our personality and response to the world. Knowing and optimizing the HumanOS is perhaps the most important technology of this Century and beyond.


Luis Eduardo Luna, Director of Wasiwaska in Florianópolis, Brasil. He is the author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon (1986), and with Pablo Amaringo of Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman (1991). He is co-editor with Steven F. White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (2000), and co-author with Rick Strassman, Slawek Wojtowicz and Ede Frecska of Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies. In 1986 he co-founded with Pablo Amaringo the Usko-Ayar Amazonian School of Painting of Pucallpa, Peru. He has lectured about Amazonian shamanism and modified states of consciousness worldwide, and has curated exhibitions of visionary art in several countries. Luna has over 40 years of experience with ayahuasca in various contexts, as an anthropologist and with all the syncretic Brazilian religious organizations that use ayahuasca as a sacrament.


Paul Stamets is speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi: habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen the understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep taken on this path of life. Paul’s philosophy is that “MycoDiversity is BioSecurity.” He sees the ancient Old Growth forests of the Pacific Northwest as a resource of incalculable value, especially in terms of its fungal genome. His research is considered breakthrough by thought leaders for creating a paradigm shift for helping ecosystems worldwide. Author of six books including Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms, and Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, he has discovered and named four new species of psilocybin mushrooms, and is the founder and owner of Fungi Perfecti, LLC, makers of the Host Defense Mushrooms nutraceutical supplement line.


Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 22 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. 


Rupert Sheldrake is a plant scientist and developmental biologist, widely known for his controversial theories about ‘morphic resonance’ and its role in nature. In the mid-90s, with his colleagues Ralph Abraham and Terence, he participated in a series of ’trialogues’ at Esalen Institute that became known as Trialogues at the Edge of the West. These conversations were memorialized in two books, Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness, and The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination and Spirit. 


Ralph Abraham is a mathematician, known for his contributions to dynamical systems theory and Chaos Theory. He was professor of Mathematics at the University of California Santa Cruz since 1968. In 1975 he founded the Visual Math Institute at UC Santa Cruz. He participated in the Esalen ’Trialogues’ with Sheldrake and Terence. 

In this last installment of the Tribute to Terence series, they will reflect on the Trialogues and the friendship that these three pioneers shared over more than a decade. 

Tribute to Terence McKenna

Thank You

  • Terence, for being the inspiration of powerful consciousness-shifting gatherings such as this one.
  • Erik, Bruce, Luis, Paul, Wade, Rupert and Ralph, for volunteering your time in honor of Terence.
  • San Francisco Psychedelic Society volunteers for moderating the Breakout Sessions.
  • Psychedelic Seminars for discovering the unreleased Terence talk.
  • Seth Warner of MycoRising and SFPS for the Crowdcast technical support and guidance.

Related Programs

View All