Dr. Dennis McKenna, PhD is an ethnopharmacologist, renowned researcher, highly sought-after lecturer, and brother of well-known psychedelics proponent Terence McKenna. 

He has been featured widely on many podcasts, and in books, documentaries and films including the Joe Rogan Experience, on Brian Rose’s London Real, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Fantastic Fungi: The Mushroom Movie, and countless others. McKenna’s memoir, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss retells his experiences and adventures with his brother Terence’s McKenna. Dennis has authored & co-authored 50+ scientific publications on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. 

He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute where he continues exploring the therapeutic uses of psychoactive medicines derived from nature and used in indigenous ethnomedical practices. Most recently, Dennis is working on launching his mystery school, The McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy, in Peru.

This episode was recorded in Costa Rica at Soltara Healing Center. The #SoltaraSeries is a collection of awe-inspiring tales of personal growth and healing from an array of guests and thought leaders. To learn more about Soltara Healing Center visit

Special Offers in This Episode:

→ $200 off Ayahuasca retreats at Soltara Healing Center with code THOUGHTROOM. Use link:

Topics Explored: 

> Dennis shares fascinating stories about his first experiences with ayahuasca, over 30 years ago in the early 1980’s

> The importance of set, setting and structure for the psychedelic experience, allowing for an individual interaction with the medicine

> The “set is the most complicated part of it…because the set is YOU.” 

> The novelty of the psychedelic experience and how that can help provide meaning in our lives

> Default Mode Network & the Reality Hallucination

> Dennis’s psychedelic journey of photosynthesis, experiencing it through the lens of a water molecule being translocated through the roots & osmotic pressures into the chloroplast of the plants 

> The Gaia Hypothesis, plant intelligence, the potential fate of human life on earth and the importance of cultivating symbiosis with the whole biosphere  

>  Dennis’ legacy and mission to educate people about psychedelics in order to shift collective consciousness

> The Experiment at La Chorrera and psychedelic research

> Dennis’ legacy and the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy 

 Show Resources:

(Book) The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss – Dennis McKenna

(Website) McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy

(Book)The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching – Dennis McKenna, Terence McKenna 

(Book) Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide: A Handbook for Psilocybin Enthusiasts, Terence McKenna, Dennis McKenna

(Book) Botanical Medicines: the Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements – Dennis McKenna, Kenneth Jones, Kerry Hughes

(Book) Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 Years of Research – Dennis McKenna, Ghillean Prance, Wade Davis, Benjamin Leonen

(Book) The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning – Simon Powell 

(Book)  Darwin’s Unfinished Business: The Self-Organizing Intelligence of Nature- Simon Powell 

(Book) Magic Mushroom Explorer: Psilocybin and the Awakening Earth – Simon Powell  

(Book) The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature- Stephen Harrod Buhner 

(Book) Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth  – Stephen Harrod Buhner 

(Book) How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence – Michael Pollan 

(Book) Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment 

(Documentary Series) One Strange Rock (On Amazon Prime Video– No longer available on Netflix as of Jan. 2020)

Ayahuasca Plant Medicine at Soltara Healing Center:

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Special thanks to Emmy-Award winning composer Kodomo (Chris Child) for allowing us to use his brilliant track Concept 1 as our theme song. 

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