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The McKenna Connection


I discovered the McKennas’ work some months after the Glide download in 1998. The realization that ‘the visual language thing’ was not just my own private psychedelic Idaho opened the door to considering the interaction of psychedelics and language as a broader question. To my surprise, there were at least two other human beings similarly possessed by ideas of evolutionary language, playing with a novel symbolic system, trying to express their findings in words and software, and stating a connection to the I Ching as a visual language, divinatory system, and mathematical object.

I felt I was living in an adjacent psychedelic mythology.

Digesting the McKenna worldview added fuel to the fire in three ways.

Passport Renewed to The Ancient Future

First, feeling aligned with their description of the download at La Chorrera, and focused on alien forms of visual language, I renewed my passport to the psychedelic sphere, and went off in search of greater understanding of Glide in particular and psychedelic linguistic phenomena in general. Writing and drawing through every session (600 or so over 11 years) produced a document of about a half-million words. In this website I describe my psychonautic practice, and place it in the context of the variety of practices engaged in by our medicine community.

Transdisciplinary Research

Second, I began to research the literature of psychedelics and language through a variety of disciplinary lenses: consciousness studies; neurophenomenology; anthropology; philosophy of mind; ethnobotany; and the literature of psychedelic self-exploration or psychonautics. The extent of this research is reflected in the attached bibliography. In 2003, I found a Ph.D. program, the Planetary Collegium, directed by Roy Ascott, in which I could develop this topic in a way that included my personal practice (psychonautics and software) as methodology. The Ph.D. was awarded in 2011 by the University of Plymouth, UK. It is the first Ph.D. on the topic of psychedelics and language.

The Search for Xenolinguists

Third, the search for other xenolinguists began. It is their stories, ideas, art, and their symbolic systems that are the heart of the Website and forthcoming book: Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics and Language at the Edge of the Unspeakable. The rest is the attempt to make sense of it in baseline discourses, to bring home the visionary bacon and make it useful to the community of practice, and beyond.


Go to next McKenna page: The Core Mystery.



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