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In Memory of D.M.Turner
Issue 1, Summer 1997
Originally published in The Resonance Project
On New Years Eve, 1996, the noted author and lay-psychedelic researcher known only by the pseudonym D.M. Turner drew a hot bath, injected himself with an unknown amount of ketamine, and settled in for the last trip of his life. When his body was found weeks later, the cause of death was determined to be natural causes. It is assumed that Mr. Turner lost consciouness at some point during the evening, slid under the water, and quietly drowned. But no one really knows what happened that night. Taking into account ketamine's extremely low toxicity levels, it is highly improbable that this was an overdose situation. However, since Mr. Turner was also one of ketamine's greatest advocates, it is ominous that his is the first publicly known ketamine-related death. His passing is a truly sad and perplexing loss for all of us, and we will no doubt miss his articulate and insightful voice.

There was a feeling that I'd left the plane of living before I was planning to, and I regretted that I'd left many things uncompleted. I remember saying to myself, 'Oh shit, I really did it this time.' I thought I could get away with skirting the edge of immortality and keep coming back. This time I went a little too far...

Recollection One
D.M. Turner, psychonautic researcher, author, and pioneer passed on to the other side on the night of Dec. 31, 1996. Those who did not know him personally will remember him through his books, and whatever mysterious and mythic status he had will surely grow as these works continue to circulate and reach new readers.

Turner's first book, The Essential Psychedelic Guide (originally titled The Psychedelic Explosion by Anonymous) existed as a manuscript in progress for over a year. Chapters of the book circulated to as far as Europe before the completed work was published. Turner followed up this groundbreaking first work with an equally insightful book called Salvinorin -- The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum.

Turner's work with Salvinorin A started in late 1994 when this newly discovered isolate quickly became legendary for its ultra-bizarre effects. Mr. Turner cultivated fearlessness as a kind of yoga or spiritual path, and Salvinorin A gave him some of his most intense rewards. According to him, "The entire experience remains largely incomprehensible, and there exists the feeling of having just stepped over the threshold into an immensely vast dimension."

Mr. Turner was in the process of revising his Essential Psychedelic Guide, but as the changes may never come to light, it should be stated that his opinion of ketamine had changed considerably. He was sensitive to safety issues, and was increasingly troubled by what he called the "psychedelic heroin" properties of ketamine. He confided in friends that DMT, which he considered his most helpful ally, had a difficult time counteracting the addictive and increasingly life-negative effects of this drug. DMT conveyed to him that ketamine was a sort of "Frankenstein molecule" that didn't obey the shamanic rules, and he was given several warnings to drop it from his program. Ultimately, his failure to completely do so led to his untimely passing.

Those who were fortunate enough to know him as a friend will remember him as a true gentleman of the cosmos. He was the kind of person who could have his identity sucked though a "black hole of consciousness" on weekends, yet was chided by co-workers for wearing suits in a casual office environment (if they only knew!). He was someone who pulled out a salmon teriyaki for a surprised group after an ayahuasca journey in the mountains at 3 a.m. He was known to choose high-end audio equipment by 'dosing' himself and then having a friend drive him around to stores to listen to various systems. He collected rare albums, seashells and minerals. He was especially fascinated with light shining through dense objects(!). He had a number of fine kaleidoscopes, built stands upon which bowling ball-sized translucent crystals would slowly rotate while lasers beamed up from below, and crafted wood furniture with panels inset with thin layers of onyx which glowed from carefully placed back lighting. He knew every plant in the nearby arboretum, grew cacti, and loved to travel to the deserts of the Southwest.

Like the art he surrounded himself with, his life was infused with the exotic. He had molted out of his identities so many times that his persona had become a collage of interdimensional images, perspectives, alliances, and understanding. This process allowed a gradual refinement which marked his character to all who knew him. He was a master of details and discernment, and though a very private person, loved to share the things he enjoyed with those who could appreciate them. His friends found him exceptionally considerate, trustworthy and nonjudgemental.

DMT told him that ketamine was a sort of "Frankenstein molecule" that did not obey the shamanic rules.

As an explorer he felt motivated to describe the landscapes he passed through, help show the way, and provide information for safe passage. He incurred personal risk with the publication of his books, but held nothing back but his name. Only in the last months of his life did he divulge his literary identity to his parents. His work has helped spark an emerging psychedelic community. He was always aware of his role in this community, and always very appreciative of it. Sadly, he has now completed his work. Let his example be stimulus for us to carry on with our own.

Recollection Two
I first met D.M. Turner in 1994 shortly before his first book was published. Photocopies of a few of the chapters had been circulating in the psychedelic underground, and when I was given a copy of the chapter "DMT -- Candy For The Mind", I knew I had to meet the author. I had also been doing quite a bit of experimenting with DMT, and we seemed to be on the same wavelength. Not since Gracie and Zarkov's "Notes From Underground" had I read anything that contained so much useful first-hand information.

I wrote a long letter to D.M. Turner and a mutual friend forwarded it to him. Thus began a long and very enjoyable correspondence between us. We discovered we were both major Hendrix fans, so if we were not discussing our experiences of altered states, we were talking about Hendrix.

In 1995 I started driving to San Francisco to see Mr. Turner. He was a very private person, and there was usually never anyone at his house while I was visiting. When I first met him, I was surprised by his small stature. I didn't expect the person who enjoyed, even required, such heroic doses of most substances to be of such a slight build.

The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye. The story of love is hello and good-bye...
until we meet again.
-- Jimi Hendrix
His house was always organized and immaculate, he was a very meticulous person in everything he did. Nowhere was his attention to detail more evident than in his woodworking, he was a craftsman of the highest order. He did not make furniture commercially but just for his own use. He spared no expense in the creation of these pieces, and I have never seen woodworking of such high quality in my life.

For a couple of years prior to our meeting, Mr. Turner had a laser light company and he would do shows at raves in the Bay Area. He collected crystals and minerals, and made a trip down to Arizona each year for the large gem and mineral show held there. While in Arizona, he would go to the desert and take his favorite entheogen, mescaline, in the desert environment he loved so much.

D.M. Turner had been struggling with a psychological addiction to ketamine for a few years. In 1996 he had gotten it under control to the point where he would use it mostly as a reward for having accomplished a certain task or project. He had become increasingly aware of the down side of ketamine use and how it negatively affected his relationship with the natural entheogens. He was always interested in the rare and exotic compounds, and was hoping to write a book on Ibogaine as his next project. Undoubtedly he could have shed much light on this little understood substance.

I am left with just memories now -- of long, animated conversations late into the night, and the warmth of understanding from someone who shared many of my same interests. He had more integrity and courage than most. I learned a lot from him in our all too brief time together... he is sorely missed. Take care my friend.

©Copyright Resonant Media, 2000. All rights reserved.