The story of Terence and Dennis McKenna in contemporary mass consciousness is inextricably associated with the so-called “Experiment at La Chorrera,” which was chronicled by Terence in his book True Hallucinations (Harper San Francisco 1993) and more recently in my newly published memoir, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss (North Star Press 2012). Our story has attracted widespread interest over many years largely as a result of the fascination our quixotic quest holds for many people. We were children of the 60s, seekers, lured by the promise of high adventure and the passion to discover something truly astonishing. Many who have read our story came from similar roots; and it is partly because we were, in some sense, Everyman, that people have found such resonance with our tale.
What began as a search for exotic hallucinogens in the jungles of the Amazon in 1971 rapidly turned into a curiosity-driven quest for the ultimate truths of time and life and mind. We didn’t know what we would find when we set out for La Chorrera in the dawning months of 1971; only that it was a great mystery, a Secret, that would change us, and everything, forever. We were right on both counts, though not in the ways we had anticipated. This is my story of the quest that I shared with Terence and a small band of fellow seekers; tongue in cheek, we called ourselves The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss. Terence has told the tale and told it well in True Hallucinations. But until the publication of my recent book, few had heard the story from my perspective. That story is now told in Chapter 31 of the book, entitled The Experiment of La Chorrera. It is excerpted here for the first time.
The Experiment at La Chorrera
Whether the ideas that seized us over those days were telepathically transmitted by the mushroom, or by a mantis-like entity on the bridge of a starship in geosynchronous orbit above the Amazon (which we considered), or created within our own minds, I’ll never know. I do know that our lively discussions led us to speculate about how the phenomenon might be assessed. I should clarify that. By then, the Teacher had suggested the outlines of an experiment to me.
Or I believed so anyway, in my state of hypermania. Wildly stimulated by the concepts at play, I felt I was downloading explicit instructions from the Teacher, the mushroom, or whatever it was, about our next steps. The goal wasn’t simply to test the hypothesis but to fabricate an actual object within the alchemical crucible of my body. This thing would be a fusion of mind and matter created by the fourth-dimensional rotation of the metabolizing psilocybin and its exteriorization, or “freezing,” into a physical object. Such an object would be the ultimate artifact. It would be the philosopher’s stone, or the UFO space-time machine, or the resurrection body — all these things being conceptualizations of the same thing. The Teacher was downloading the blueprints for building a hyper-dimensional vehicle out of the 4-D transformation of my own DNA interlaced with the DNA of a mushroom. But not just blueprints alone. I was also getting step-by-step instructions on how to build this transcendental object.