Terence McKenna
2012 proponent Terence McKenna's life and death.

Terence McKenna (16 November, 1946 - 03 April, 2000) earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Conservation (U.C. Berkeley). He was the author of several books, and wrote the forward to John Major Jenkins' book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012.

Biographical Overview

Early Life

In his early life, Terence McKenna was attracted to the sciences, finding interest in the Earth sciences and in geology through an exposure to fossilization introduced to him by his uncle. His appreciation for geology, and also with the "artistic nature of science" was ingrained in his passionate youthful mind at a young age.

As a 16 year old, he was introduced to psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens would forever alter his perception of the way things work.

Adult Life

During his adult life, he spend some time teaching English classes in Japan. His side-hobby during this time was smuggling hashish into the United States.

Many of his "contributions to science" were done while experiencing highs. Just some of the substances he used: Morning glory seeds (containing LSA), Marijuana (containing THC), and oo-koo-hé (containing DMT, his drug of choice).1

It was while using DMT that he developed his "Novelty Theory" making associations with the I Ching and historical events. These "connections" were explored extensively in the book he and his brother, Dennis, wrote, The Invisible Landscape - Mind Hallucinogens and The I Ching.


McKenna had a history of migrane headaches, to the point where, in 1999 he suffered from a brain seizure. He was subsequently diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He passed away in April of 2000.2

McKenna's Theories

Stoned Ape

McKenna proposed that as our early apelike ancestors moved out of the forest and into the grasslands, their appetites and needs changed. One readily available source of food was a type of hallucinogenic mushroom. McKenna suggested that in low doses, the heightened vision from consuming these mushrooms would provide an advantage to tribes that did so. Larger doses would increase sex drive, which would, naturally, increase a users likelihood of having large numbers of offspring, a significant advantage in having your genes carried on to future generations.

Novelty Theory

McKenna's ‘Novelty Theory’ and the related ‘Timewave’ sought to show that the events of any given time are recursively related to the events of other times3. His ‘theories’4 purported to use mathematics, although he never published them in a peer-reviewed journal, and most mathematicians who looked at his calculations proclaimed them to be ‘numerology’. Central to his theory was the idea that 'Novelty' proceeded in a periodic cycle, with a period of 67.29 years.

The Prediction

As part of his Timewave Zero/Novelty theory, McKenna made a prediction regarding 2012.

Omega Point

McKenna’s ‘theory’ said that as the complexity and sophistication of human thought and culture increases, a factor he called ‘universal novelty’ approaches a curve of infinite exponential growth. He called this the ‘omega point’. In the time immediately prior to, and during the ‘omega point of infinite novelty’, anything and everything conceivable to the human imagination will occur simultaneously. McKenna fixed the date of this historical endpoint as December 21, 2012, the end of the long count of the Mayan calendar.

Fudged Date

However, originally McKenna had chosen the end of the calendar by looking for a very novel event in recent history, and using this as the beginning of his final 67.29 year cycle. The event he chose was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which gave an end-date in mid-November of 2012, but when he discovered the proximity of this date to the end of the current 13-baktun cycle of the Maya calendar, he adjusted the end date to match!5


  • "The invisible Landscape - Mind Hallucinogens and The I Ching" (1975)
  • "Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution"(1992)
  • "The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History" (1992)
  • "True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise" (1993)
  • "The Politics of Consciousness : A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom" by Steve Kubby and Terence McKenna (1995)
  • "The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination and Spirit" by Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna, and Ralph Abraham (1998)
  • "Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date" by John Major Jenkins and Terence McKenna (1998)
  • "True Hallucinations and the Archaic Revival" (1998)
  • "Portals and Corridors: A Guide to Hyperspace Travel" by Monica Szu-Whitney, Gary Whitney, and Terence McKenna (1999)
  • "Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures" by Charles Hayes and Terence McKenna (2000)
  • "Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness" by Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, and Jean Houston Ph.D. (2001)


McKenna's prediction regarding 2012 is based on numerology and his own pseudoscientific ideas, and not on anything grounded in fact or reason

1. Wikipedia. 2009. Terence McKenna http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_mckenna (accessed 2009-06-01)
2. Wikipedia. 2009. Timewave Zero http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timewave_zero (accessed 2009-06-01)
3. Ralph-Abraham.org. 1983. Dynamics of Hyperspace http://www.ralph-abraham.org/talks/transcripts/hyperspace.html


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