Terence McKenna

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Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, philosophy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He was called the “Timothy Leary of the ’90s”, “one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism”, and the “intellectual voice of rave culture“.

McKenna formulated a concept about the nature of time based on fractal patterns he claimed to have discovered in the I Ching, which he called novelty theory, proposing this predicted the end of time in the year 2012. His promotion of novelty theory and its connection to the Maya calendar is credited as one of the factors leading to the widespread beliefs about 2012 eschatology. Novelty theory is considered pseudoscience.”  — Wikipedia

“The truth can take care of itself. You don’t have to approach the truth with eyes lowered and gaze averted on bended knees. That’s how you approach bullshit. But the truth is so powerful that you can kick the tyres, turn over the engine, check the odometer and nobody is offended. Truth is real. It can stand the test. And that’s why I went all over the world looking at various spiritual traditions. I don’t feel it’s putting them down to say that they were ineffective, because they were all great aspirations but the only real open doorway that I ever found were the plants. This works. You know in other spiritual disciplines everyone wants to go faster. They want the roshi to give them further empowerments. They want further information, postures, secret teachings, so forth and so on. Once you reach the psychedelic experience the accellerator is far less interesting than the location of the brakes. That’s what we’re looking for. We all know how to push this so fast we can’t stand it. We need a feeling of unity. Feeling is primary. So it doesn’t come out of intellectual exhortation. It comes out of a personal act of courage made by the individual. It comes out of surrender of the individual. Surrender is the opposite side of the coin of the ego ”

Rudolf Steiner

“Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (27 (or 25) February 1861[5] – 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

In the first, more philosophically oriented phase of this movement, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science and spirituality. His philosophical work of these years, which he termed “spiritual science”, sought to apply the clarity of thinking characteristic of Western philosophy to spiritual questions, differentiating this approach from what he considered to be vaguer approaches to mysticism. In a second phase, beginning around 1907, he began working collaboratively in a variety of artistic media, including drama, the movement arts (developing a new artistic form, eurythmy) and architecture, culminating in the building of the Goetheanum, a cultural centre to house all the arts. In the third phase of his work, beginning after World War I, Steiner worked to establish various practical endeavors, including Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, and anthroposophical medicine.

Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a more explicitly spiritual approach. He based his epistemology on Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s world view, in which “Thinking… is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.” A consistent thread that runs from his earliest philosophical phase through his later spiritual orientation is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.” (Wikipedia)

Carl Jung

“Synopsis

Carl Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. Jung believed in the “complex,” or emotionally charged associations. He collaborated with Sigmund Freud, but disagreed with him about the sexual basis of neuroses. Jung founded analytical psychology, advancing the idea of introvert and extrovert personalities, archetypes and the power of the unconscious. Jung published numerous works during his lifetime, and his ideas have had reverberations traveling beyond the field of psychiatry, extending into art, literature and religion as well. He died in 1961.

Early Life

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was born July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. The only son of a Protestant clergyman, Jung was a quiet, observant child who packed a certain loneliness in his single-child status. However, perhaps as a result of that isolation, he spent hours observing the roles of the adults around him, something that no doubt shaped his later career and work.

Jung’s childhood was further influenced by the complexities of his parents. His father, Paul, developed a failing belief in the power of religion as he grew older. Jung’s mother, Emilie, was haunted by mental illness and, when her boy was just three, left the family to live temporarily in a psychiatric hospital.

As was the case with his father and many other male relatives, it was expected that Jung would enter the clergy. Instead, Jung, who began reading philosophy extensively in his teens, bucked tradition and attended the University of Basel. There, he was exposed to numerous fields of study, including biology, paleontology, religion and archaeology, before finally settling on medicine.

Jung graduated the University of Basel in 1900 and obtained his M.D. two years later from the University of Zurich.

Career Beginnings

While attending the University of Zurich, Jung worked on the staff at Burgholzli Asylum, where he came under the guidance of Eugene Bleuler, a pioneering psychologist who laid the groundwork for what is now considered classical studies of mental illness.

At the hospital, Jung observed how different words elicited emotional responses from patients, which he believed represented subconscious associations around immoral or sexual content. These observations led the way for Jung to develop the term “complex” to describe the conditions.

Working with Freud

Jung’s growing reputation as a psychologist and his work dealing with the subconscious eventually led him to the ideas of Sigmund Freud and, later, to the man himself.

Over a five-year period beginning in 1907, the two men worked closely together, and Jung was widely believed to be the one who would continue the work of the elder Freud. However, viewpoints and temperament ended their collaboration and, eventually their friendship. In particular, Jung challenged Freud’s beliefs around sexuality as the foundation of neurosis. He also disagreed with Freud’s methods, asserting that the elder psychologist’s work was too one-sided.

The final break came in 1912 when Jung published Psychology of the Unconscious. In it, Jung examined the unconscious mind and tried to understand the symbolic meaning of its contents. In the process, the work also took head-on a number of Freud’s theories.

Analytical Psychology

But breaking with Freud had consequences for Jung. Freud closed off his inner circle to the younger psychologist, and others in the psychoanalytic community also shunned him. In 1914, he resigned from the International Psychoanalytic Society and continued undaunted in the development of his ideas.

Seeking to further distinguish his work from Freud’s, Jung adopted the term “analytical psychology” and delved deep into his work. His most important development from this early period was his conception of introverts and extroverts and the notion that people can be categorized as one of the two, depending on the extent to which they exhibit certain functions of consciousness. Jung’s work in this area was featured in his 1921 publication Psychological Types.

During this period he also allowed himself to explore his own mind, eventually proposing the idea that there was not only a personal unconscious but also a collective unconscious from which certain universal symbols and patterns have arisen throughout history. At the heart of analytical psychology is the interplay of these with the ego, a process he labeled individuation, by which a person develops into his or her own “true self.”

Later Work

For much of his later life, Jung traveled the globe to study different cultures. He published extensively on his findings, authoring some 200 works on his theories, including Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933) and The Undiscovered Self (1957). He also held professorships at the Federal Polytechnical in Zurich and the University of Basel.

Jung’s ideas continue to resonate today, in fields as varied as archaeology, religion, literature and even pop culture.” (biography dot com)

Antonin Artaud

“Considered among the most influential figures in the evolution of modern drama theory, Antonin Artaud associated himself with Surrealist writers, artists, and experimental theater groups in Paris during the 1920s. When political differences resulted in his break from the Surrealists, he founded the Theatre Alfred Jarry with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron. Together they hoped to create a forum for works that would radically change French theater. Artaud, especially, expressed disdain for Western theater of the day, panning the ordered plot and scripted language his contemporaries typically employed to convey ideas, and he recorded his ideas in such works as Le Theatre de la cruaute and The Theater and Its Double.

Most critics believe that Artaud’s most noted contribution to drama theory is his “theater of cruelty,” an intense theatrical experience that combined elaborate props, magic tricks, special lighting, primitive gestures and articulations, and themes of rape, torture, and murder to shock the audience into confronting the base elements of life. Les Cenci, Artaud’s play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered by men the girl hires to eliminate him, typifies Artaud’s theater of cruelty. Les Cenci was produced in Paris in 1935 but was closed after seventeen dismal performances. Another example of Artaud’s work is The Fountain of Blood, a farce about the creation of the world and its destruction by humans, especially women. Like many of Artaud’s other plays, scenarios, and prose, Les Cenci and The Fountain of Blood were designed to challenge conventional, civilized values and bring out the natural, barbaric instincts Artaud felt lurked beneath the refined, human facade. Of The Fountain of Blood, Albert Bermel wrote in Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty: “All in all, The Fountain of Blood is a tragic, repulsive, impassioned farce, a marvelous wellspring for speculation, and a unique contribution to the history of the drama.”

Although Artaud’s theater of cruelty was not widely embraced, his ideas have been the subject of many essays on modern theater, and many writers continue to study Artaud’s concepts. Author George E. Wellwarth, for example, in Drama Survey, explained the theater of cruelty as “the impersonal, mindless—and therefore implacable—cruelty to which all men are subject. The universe with its violent natural forces was cruel in Artaud’s eyes, and this cruelty, he felt, was the one single most important fact of which man must be aware. . . . Artaud’s theater must be ecstatic. It must crush and hypnotize the onlooker’s sense.” Another description of the theater of cruelty was offered by Wallace Fowlie in an essay published in Sewanee Review. Fowlie wrote: “A dramatic presentation should be an act of initiation during which the spectator will be awed and even terrified. . . . During that experience of terror or frenzy . . . the spectator will be in a position to understand a new set of truths, superhuman in quality.”

Artaud’s creative abilities were developed, in part, as a means of therapy during the artist’s many hospitalizations for mental illness. While being treated in a hospital by Edouard Toulouse, Artaud was encouraged to express himself in poetry, which Toulouse later published in the journal Demain. Artaud’s life and his work, despite the efforts of psychotherapy, reflected his mental afflictions and were further complicated by his dependence on narcotics. At times he expressed faith in God; other times he denounced the Church and deified himself. He was also obsessed with the human body; he loathed the idea of sex and expressed a desire to separate himself from his sexual self.

In Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision, author Bettina L. Knapp wrote of the theorist’s mental illness: “Artaud was unable to adapt to life; he could not relate to others; he was not even certain of his own identity.” Knapp commented that “Artaud was in essence constructing an entire metaphysical system around his sickness, or, if you will, entering the realm of the mystic via his own disease. The focal point of his universe was himself and everything radiated from him outward.” Referring to Artaud’s The Umbilicus of Limbo, Knapp indicated Artaud “intended to ‘derange man,’ to take people on a journey ‘where they would never have consented to go.'” She further explained, “Since Artaud’s ideas concerning the dramatic arts were born from his sickness, he looked upon the theater as a curative agent; a means whereby the individual could come to the theater to be dissected, split and cut open first, and then healed.” Knapp also offered an explanation of Artaud’s popularity long after his death: “In his time, he was a man alienated from his society, divided within himself, a victim of inner and outer forces beyond his control. . . . The tidal force of his imagination and the urgency of his therapeutic quest were disregarded and cast aside as the ravings of a madman. . . . Modern man can respond to Artaud now because they share so many psychological similarities and affinities.”

Similar words were issued in a Horizon essay by Sanche de Gramont, who wrote of Artaud: “If he was mad, he welcomed his madness. . . . To him the rational world was deficient; he welcomed the hallucinations that abolished reason and gave meaning to his alienation. He purposely placed himself outside the limits in which sanity and madness can be opposed, and gave himself up to a private world of magic and irrational visions.”

Artaud spent nine of his last eleven years confined in mental facilities but continued to write, producing some of his finest poetry during the final three years of his life, according to biographer Susan Sontag. “Not until the great outburst of writing in the period between 1945 and 1948 . . . did Artaud, by then indifferent to the idea of poetry as a closed lyric statement, find a long-breathed voice that was adequate to the range of his imaginative needs—a voice that was free of established forms and open-ended, like the poetry of [Ezra] Pound.” However, Sontag, other biographers, and reviewers agree that Artaud’s primary influence was on the theater. According to Sontag, Artaud “has had an impact so profound that the course of all recent serious theater in Western Europe and the Americas can be said to divide into two periods—before Artaud and after Artaud.”” (Poetryfoundation)

Valentin Tomberg

“Valentin Tomberg was born in St Petersburg on 27 February 1900. His parents, of Baltic German extraction, taught him their Lutheran faith. While still an adolescent, he was drawn to Theosophy and the mystical aspects of Russian Orthodoxy and attracted to the visionary teachings of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), who helped to revive the Orthodox reverence for Sophia, the hypostasis of Holy Wisdom. Tomberg knew Shmakov’s Tarot book, and in 1920 he encountered some members of Mebes’ group. They befriended him and tutored him in Mebes’ use of the Tarot as an encyclopedic system of occultism.

During the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent civil war (1917-23) Tomberg’s mother was fatally shot by marauders as she ventured into the streets. Valentin fled with his father and elder brother to Reval (modern Tallinn) in Estonia. He worked sporadically as a farmer, apothecary and teacher. In 1924 he gained steady employment with the Estonian postal service and began to study comparative religion and languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, English, Dutch and German) at Tatu University.

In 1925 Tomberg joined the Anthroposophical Society founded by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925); Otto Sepp was the Secretary General of the Estonian branch. By 1930 Tomberg was promoting Anthroposophy through lectures and essays, and the Society named him to succeed Sepp when the latter died in 1931. Steiner had specified 1933 as the year of Christ’s Second Coming, which would occur in the ‘etheric realm’. Believers would then be able to advance their spiritual growth by immediate revelations from the ‘Christ-Being’. Tomberg clung to this belief. His series of essays, Anthroposophical Studies of the Old Testament, was privately printed in 1933. Tomberg was encouraged in his spiritual aspirations by his wife, Marie Demski, a French-Polish woman who had lived in Russia. They met during their mutual exile in Estonia. Their only child, a son named Alexis, was born in 1933.

Immediately before the Second World War, Tomberg was invited to address Anthroposophist groups in Swanik, Bangor and Rotterdam. During the war years, however, his story becomes confused. He was forced to resign from the Anthroposophical Society. But was the expulsion because he was elevating himself over Rudolph Steiner, or because he was elevating Christianity over Anthroposophy? He moved to Amsterdam, where some say he was pursued by Nazis. He can next be traced to Cologne, either having been taken there by the Nazis, or having been spirited there to escape the Nazis (or to escape the Allied offensive against the Nazis in Holland). By the end of the war, he was either in a refugee camp or studying the law at the University of Cologne while Allied bombs fell on that city. We can say with certainty that he had left Holland for Germany, and that he had left Anthroposophy for Roman Catholicism.

Tomberg no longer desired a public role. In 1948 friends in England persuaded him to work as a translator at the BBC; based in Reading, he helped to monitor Soviet broadcasts. He retired at the first practical opportunity, in 1960, to write and study, and lived in seclusion with his wife and son. He died on the island of Majorca on 24 February 1973. Marie Demski Tomberg died not long after. His unfinished book, Covenant of the Heart, was posthumously printed. It includes discussions of Christ’s miracles, the Ten Commandments, and the Cabalistic Name of God.

Tomberg wrote Meditations on the Tarot, a Journey into Christian Hermeticism (Amity House, Warwick, New York, 1985). It was published anonymously and posthumously, as he had requested. The book uses the Tarot de Marseille as a pretext for teaching Tomberg’s theosophy, which he says is a living tradition, namely the esoteric church of St John (the ‘heart’ of the Church), as distinct from the exoteric church of St Peter (the ‘head’ of the Church). According to Tomberg, Hermeticism is not a sect or a school, but a mystical predisposition, which he hopes already connects him to his readers. Their shared destiny is to nurture esoteric Christianity until the Second Coming of Christ is complete. The book is primarily inspirational and exhortatory. Tomberg is sympathetic to non-Christian mysticism, notably yoga, Sufism and Cabalism. He avoids Rosicrucianism, perhaps because one of its seminal manifestos — the Confessio — is hostile to Catholicism. He slights all Protestant faiths, and ignores Swedenborg. He condemns dualism, whether Zoroastrian, Manichaean or Gnostic. Each of the Tarot trumps, from le Bateleur to le Monde, occasions a ‘letter’ to the `dear Unknown Reader’. The Fool (le Mat) is discussed in the twenty-first position, immediately before le Monde, still using the placement established by Levi. The French magus is sometimes cited, along with other occultists, in a wide range of mystics, theologians, philosophers and scholars. In his meditation on the Death card, Tomberg includes favourable remarks about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Meditations on the Tarot has been well received by Tarotists: it is praised by Antoine Faivre, the noted French historian of esoterism: ‘There is perhaps no better introduction to Christian theosophy, to occultism, to any reflection on esoterism than this magisterial work, not that of a historian but of an inspired theosopher — a rather rare occurrence — one who is careful to respect history’.”

from pp. 209-210, Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett’s A History of the Occult Tarot (Duckworth, 2002)

John Moriarty

“Just two weeks before he died from cancer, aged 69, the Irish philosopher-poet John Moriarty sent the checked proofs of the second part of his mighty autobiography, Nostos, to his publisher. During the last two years of his life, he managed to finish and have published three other books: Invoking Ireland, challenging contemporary Irish attitudes to their land, history, religion and culture; Night Journey to Buddh Gaia, a monumental work which builds a vision that confronts our western Enlightenment assumptions and conceptions; and Serious Sounds, a personal reflection on the seven Christian sacraments. John sought a rebirth of a Christianity that was inclusive of all religions and mythologies, and that took account of the deep and often dark dimensions of our turbulent humanity.

Born in County Kerry to a farmer, John showed early promise at school in Listowel before going to University College, Dublin, where he gained a double-first in philosophy and English literature. He was widely regarded as having one of the finest minds of his generation. He confounded his peers and teachers by failing to appear at his graduation, drifting off across Europe and ending up in London. There, he was invited by James Cameron, head of the philosophy department at Leeds University, to read for a postgraduate degree, and because of his financial situation, he was offered the post of tutor to first-year students.

After a couple of years, John went to the University of Manitoba, Canada, where he taught English literature for a further eight years. But he was uncomfortable as an academic and decided to return to his beloved Ireland and search for his biological, cultural and spiritual roots, seeking to develop a relationship with the earth and his fellow creatures. When his money ran out, he helped out in hotels and then turned to gardening.

In 1977, he returned to England and became live-in gardener in the Carmelite monastery at Boars Hill, Oxford, where he found solace in confession. His table talk and ebullience entranced the novices. On returning to Ireland, he worked as a gardener again in Connemara and County Galway, and having been given a piece of land, he started building his own house.

Then, in 1985, he was discovered by Andy O’Mahony of RTE Radio 1, who introduced John by saying: “My guest tonight is the most remarkable person I have ever met.” His work was brought to the attention of Antony Farrell of the Lilliput Press, Dublin, and in 1994 his first book, Dreamtime, was published. Having read this, I eventually met John in 1997 and we became good friends. The three-volume Turtle was Gone a Long Time (1996-98) was followed by the first part of Nostos in 2001.

John also hosted the radio discussion programme, The Blackbird and the Bell, for RTE and lectured widely, using his extensive knowledge of mythology and religion to enliven his talks with entrancing storytelling. In the mid-90s, he moved to his new home on Mangerton Mountain, near Killarney, County Kerry. I invited him over to England to stay with us in Shropshire and organised conferences, lectures and storytelling events for fellow artists and others, and many fell under his thrall.

In 2002, he began to realise his vision of a Christian monastic “hedge school”, Sli na Firinne, by buying a piece of land near Kilgarvan. He hoped this would be “a place where Christianity can recover its nerve”. The original hedge schools arose out of the prohibition of Catholic education in the 18th century.

Many recognise John as a major writer, comparable to Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. A collection of 13 CDs of his talks and lectures is to be released later this year under the title of One Evening in Eden, with proceeds funding Sli na Firrine. Last year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ireland, Galway.

A large, rough-hewn man with bright, deep set eyes beneath a leonine mass of curls, John had a rich and melodious Kerry voice that changed from a gentle softness to a bellowing ebullience that erupted into a laughter that shattered all pomposity. His pain at our blindness to the riches of our created world and the God who made us resonates through all his writing. A mystic and prophet in the Old Testament meaning of the word, his was an inspiring vision of a world and a culture that is truly healing.

His writing could be dense and difficult, requiring a knowledge of myth and religion similar to his own, but there are so many passages of such intense and vibrant beauty, one can forgive such heavy going.

The great love of his life, Eileen Moore, moved in to take care of him in the last year of his life, and he died surrounded by family and friends.

· John Moriarty, philosopher-poet, born February 2 1938; died June 1 2007″ (Guardian)