Terence McKenna

Terence Kemp McKenna was born on November 16, 1946. He was raised in Paonia, Colorado. McKenna was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, philosopher, and writer well known for his interest in psychedelic plants. He was a strong advocate for the responsible use of these plants to explore altered states of mind. He studied plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Terence Kemp McKenna

Birth date:

November 16, 1946

Death date:

April 3, 2000 (age 53)

Zodiac Sign:



6' 2"

Net Worth:

$1.5 million


Terrence McKenna was born on November 16, 1946. He was fondly referred to as the “Timothy Leary of the ’90s” and the “intellectual voice of rave culture.” He was deeply appreciative and in awe of nature and spent his youth fossil-hunting. He also developed an interest in psychology at a young age. At 14, he began reading the works of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. McKenna attended the University of California, Berkeley, and was accepted into the Tussman Experimental College (but he dropped out). He returned almost 10 years later to complete his degree in ecology, shamanism, and conservation of natural resources.

McKenna became one of the pioneers of the psychedelic movement and began to give public lectures and host workshops. He was especially interested in plant-based psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, cannabis, and the plant derivative N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (D.M.T.). He wrote and published numerous books throughout his career including “The Archaic Revival,” “Food of the Gods,” “The Invisible Landscape,” “Psilocybin Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide,” and “True Hallucinations.” McKenna and his wife Kathleen Harrison founded Botanical Dimensions, a nonprofit ethnobotanical preserve in Hawaii. It was created to collect, protect, propagate, and understand plants of ethnomedical significance. He was involved in this undertaking until the couple divorced in 1992 leaving Harrison to manage its operations. They have two children, Finn and Klea. McKenna died of brain cancer on April 3, 2000.

Career timeline

McKenna Enrolls in U.C.

He enrolls in the University of California in Berkeley and is accepted into the Tussman Experimental College.

He Travels to Nepal and Indonesia

After his trip to Jerusalem, he travels to Nepal and Indonesia where he works as a professional butterfly collector.

He Graduates from College

He heads back to U.C. to finish his studies.

His Book About Mushrooms

He and his brother publish "Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide" under the pseudonyms "O.T. Oss" and "O.N. Oeric."

He Forms Botanical Dimensions

McKenna and his wife Kathleen establish Botanical Dimensions in Hawaii.

He Publishes "True Hallucinations"

He publishes his book "True Hallucinations," which relates his experiences in the Amazon jungle.

Why We Love Terence McKenna

  1. He was a trailblazer

    McKenna was the foremost authority on psychedelics. Throughout his professional life, he paved the way for many who followed him in his field of research.

  2. He was a commended researcher

    His research studies and books were considered masterpieces in research and writing. Many established institutions praised his work.

  3. His interest in technology and nature

    McKenna took a keen interest in technology as well as nature. He was specifically drawn to the Internet and the role it could play in psychedelic culture.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. Migraines were part of his life

    McKenna suffered from migraines for many years.

  2. He studied the Tibetan language

    When he traveled to Tibet, he spent much of his time learning to speak its language.

  3. He predicted the end of the world

    McKenna said he knew when the world would end: December 22, 2012; this statement was based on a mathematical construct posited by an ancient Chinese book of divination.

  4. He was a shaman

    McKenna was drawn to shamanism while studying Tibetan folklore.

  5. He was an insect collector

    He had a collection of over 2,000 insects gathered between 1969 and 1972.

Terence McKenna FAQs

What is Stoned Ape Theory?

It was a theory McKenna and his brother developed about how “magic” mushrooms could have changed the brains of proto-humans.

What did Terence McKenna believe in?

McKenna believed in the benefits of exploring altered states of mind by ingesting naturally occurring psychedelics.

Are Terence and Dennis McKenna related?

Yes, they are brothers.

Terence McKenna’s birthday dates

2024November 16Saturday
2025November 16Sunday
2026November 16Monday
2027November 16Tuesday
2028November 16Thursday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.