Psychedelic Shine with Dennis McKenna at the Boulder Theater
Brandon Antony • March 22, 2017 • Progression
Never forget that we are monkeys. Never forget how little you know. Plants are running the show. We are a part of the biosphere. Traveling in a space-odyssey. These messages echoed through the Boulder Theater on Sunday, February 12, during “Psychedelic Shine with Dennis McKenna: A Celebration of Psychedelic Success.” An event which was held throughout the day with various lecturers and psychonauts from differing backgrounds. Yet, a similar message was heard across the board, as Dennis repeatedly stated, “I am just a curious monkey.”
Dennis McKenna has been working within the fields of Ethnopharmacology and research pharmacology, and has been a lecturer and an author for the duration of his life. He has traveled the globe, experiencing the lush jungles of the Earth and of the Human Mind. He is the younger brother of renowned psychedelic pioneer Terence McKenna. Born in Colorado, Dennis also is an Alumni from the University of Colorado, a fact which many may be unaware of.
The Boulder community has been a hub for the psychedelic conversation since the ‘60s. This conversation is an important one stemming from the roots of our civilization. Not locked within the confines of our homes or hiding in the forests waiting to be found. This conversation appears as an old one between friends around a fire. In the commons. A story to be shared between plants and the brain. Plants and human culture. A web of connectivity which integrates itself into the message. A language to be learned.
The topic of the day is the psychedelic experience and its positive effects on the human brain and nervous system. The brain is one of the most complex structures in the universe with over 100 trillion neural connections. The galaxy has about 100 billion stars. The brain can then be said to be a three pound galaxy. Within this beautifully intricate structure, humans have developed complex language. In the animal kingdom, language sets us apart.
McKenna goes on to state the most obvious question, “How did we get here?” We, being defined as Homo sapiens, the wise man, have only been on this planet 200,000 years. Making the point, Homo erectus appears to be the most successful hominid species adapting their technology and living habits, and surviving for nearly two million years. Dennis McKenna points out how we, as Homo sapiens m, have a long way to go to match our ancestors, Homo erectus.
The human species still runs the program of problematic primate. The problematic part being a hypertrophied brain: an enlargement of organ or tissue with increase in its size of cells. The hypertrophied human primate condition has led to complex languages, symbolic thinking, creativity and artistry. As well as aggressive warlike action, technology, spirituality and religion. Primates are extremely clever and curious; however, not very wise. McKenna very clearly stated, “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should…. We like to push the envelope.” Another moment cast through Boulder Theater, a resounding message radiated throughout the crowd: “Get Wise.”
Dennis McKenna continued his thesis which I can only summarize here: “Animals respond to their environment through behavior and behavior adaptation.” Plants use chemistry as their form of language. Plants use the same messaging system as the brain does. “Plants use messenger molecules to modulate their relationships with other organisms like other plants, fungi and other microorganisms, as well as insects and humans alike.”
Now the brain uses neurotransmitters as chemical messengers to transmit signals from one neuron to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. McKenna emphatically stated, “Neurotransmitters are the messenger molecules of the brain.” Plants contain psychedelic substances which interact with a subtype of the serotonin receptor. Messenger molecules target neurotransmitter which mediates and acts by increasing excitation in not only the cortex but the whole of the brain. McKenna continued, “Neurotransmitters and plant messengers are evolved from the same evolutionary process…. It is then not surprising that plants contain a panoply of neurotransmitter like compounds that act on the brain.”
Plants are sending a message to the brain of the problematic primate. Plants want to form a relationship with primates. The message points towards to a psychedelic symbiosis. No technology required. Eat it. Transform and transcend worldviews into the mysterium tremendum, connect to mysteries of worlds. Dennis McKenna clearly explains how, “plants, and specifically mushroom iconography, can be seen throughout the world for thousands of years.” The plants become teachers. The shamans are only spokesmen having a love of life, of a living system or Biophilia, being informed by the psychedelic experience.
McKenna beautifully concludes the lecture by stating the Anthropocene, the current geological time, as The Age of Human Impact. The state of the world appears today as the perfect nexus for growth from a way of life unsuited to our current needs. Now, we as the human species must make a change on a global scale. Let’s make the transition into the Psychozoic Era, The Age of The Human Mind. Where the damage can be repaired; as the ubiquitous we wake up and wise up. Psychedelic Shine’s audience is left with one lasting message as Dennis McKenna says happily, “I feel like I work for the plants…. The plants are the diplomat messengers.” Get Wise, what will it be: mushroom or nuclear cloud!