Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna


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by Dennis McKenna

From the Publisher: Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna, is an autobiographical account of renowned ethnobotanist Dennis McKenna’s childhood, his relationship with his brother, and the author’s experiences with and reflections on psychedelics, philosophy, and scientific innovation. Chronicling the McKenna brothers’ childhood in western Colorado during the 1950s and 1960s, Dennis writes of his adolescent adventures including his first encounters with alcohol and drugs (many of which were facilitated by Terence), and the people and ideas that shaped them both. Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss weaves personal narrative through philosophical ideas and tales of psychedelic experimentation.

In this book, Dennis describes these inquiries with the wisdom of perspective. In his account of what has become known as “The Experiment at La Chorrera”– which Terence documented in his own 1989 book, True Hallucinations — Dennis describes how he had visions of merging mushroom and human DNA, the brothers’ predictions for the future, and their evolving ideas about society and consciousness. He also offers an intellectual understanding of the hallucinogenic effects of high-dose psychedelic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances.

Dennis, now world-renowned for this ethnobotanical work, describes in Brotherhood his early interests in cosmology and astrology, his sometimes rocky relationship with his older brother and how their paths diverged later in their lives. Dennis describes his academic career in between touching accounts of both his mother’s and Terence’s battles with cancer. In the 10th Anniversary edition of Brotherhood, Dennis reflects on scientific revelations, climate change, and the social and political crises of our time. The new edition also features both the original foreword by Luis Eduardo Luna and a new foreword by Dr. Bruce Damer.

Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss is a story about brotherhood, psychedelic experimentation, and the intertwining nature of science and myth.

Praise for the Book: “Terence McKenna was one of a kind. For all of us who never knew him personally but have heard his unique and mesmerizing voice, been touched by his eloquence, and persuaded by the power of his insights and the courage of his imagination, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss is the fireside chat with the man himself we always wished we’d had. Dennis McKenna has done something very special here. ” – Graham Hancock

“Released on Terence’s 66th birthday, this book by his brother Dennis is a remarkable thing. The story is about two young men, thankfully too foolish to know better, who transcended consciousness, and returned to tell the tale. Terence the poet and Dennis the scientist. Told with honesty and love.” – W. Paul Blakey

“It is a touching, personal story told by Dennis McKenna; brother, confidant, and comrade of the beloved Terence McKenna. It is told an intimate style full of love, wisdom, truth and meaning. We were so very pleased to find that this isn’t only a story about Terence; rather it is an intimate look into the life of two very unique brothers, and is as much about Dennis as it is Terence. Dennis delves deep into their story, from their upbringing, to their coming into adulthood, and on into the many adventures that are now well known by many; though never in the way they will be after you read this book. This book isn’t only a story, a familial memoir. It is also filled with deep insights on life, spirituality, entheogens, the Other, our Earth Mother, and imperfect humanity. ” – Jeh and Hani Cranfill

About the Authors: 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.

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. Dennis McKenna is the editor of Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (Vol. 1 & 2): 50 Years of Research, published by Synergetic Press in 2018.

Bruce Frederick Damer , PhD is Canadian-American multi disciplinary scientist, designer, and author. Dr. Bruce Damer collaborates with colleagues developing and testing a new model for the origin of life on Earth and in the design of spacecraft architectures to provide a viable path for expansion of human civilization beyond the Earth.He began his career in the 1980s developing some of the earliest user interfaces for personal computers, led a community in the 1990s bringing the first multi-user virtual worlds to the Internet, and since 2000 supported NASA and the space industry on numerous simulations and spacecraft designs.

He has spent 25 years chronicling the history of computing in his DigiBarn Computer Museum and curates archives of counterculture figures such as Dr. Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and others. He currently serves as Principal Scientist at DigitalSpace; Associate Researcher in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz; Associate of the NASA Astrobiology Center; Member of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, and Founding Director of the Contact Consortium. He received his PhD from University College, Dublin; MSEE from the University of Southern California and BSc from the University of Victoria.

Luis Eduardo Luna was born in Florencia, in the Colombian Amazon region. He is both a Guggenheim fellow and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. Luna worked with Pablo Amaringo to establish the internationally recognized USKO-AYAR Amazonian School of Painting in Pucallpa, Peru. From 1994-1998, he taught as a Professor of Anthropology in Brazil, and currently teaches as a Senior Lecturer at the Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki. He has also been an Associate of the Botanical Museum of Harvard University since 1986.

ISBN: 1957869011    –    EAN: 9781957869018

Additional information

Weight 30 oz
Dimensions 8.9 × 6 × 1.5 in