Inventing Fardow, a Terence McKenna Ayahuasca Trip


This video’s raison d’etre is a questioner who asks McKenna: “Can you describe a magical shamanic battle and how it would occur?” Then, Terence McKenna responds with a in-depth anecdote that includes recalling a time in his youth when he invented the word fardow.

Fardow:  the embarrassment you feel when someone else fucks up and you just happen to be there, but, somehow the aura of it is so strong… [definition sited at minute marker 4.10 in video]

There is an equivalent for the word fardow in Spanish, so it could be argued that McKenna may have know of the concept in Spanish and subconsciously translated it without proper attribution due to his knowledge of the Spanish language.

Pena ajena (Mexican Spanish): The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.

Three references pointing to the concept in Spanish: Better than English, The Many Emotions for Which English has No Words, and Words that Don’t Exist in the English Language

Hence, from the above we can credit McKenna with bringing back a cultural concept and labeling it for his fellow English speakers to use; yet, most English speakers wouldn’t know what fardow meant if you asked them, while most Spanish speakers are familiar with the term pena ajena.

Moving on, the sound quality of the video improves at 20 seconds–when Terence McKenna begins to recount his 1976 ayahuasca journey in Peru; while on this trip, McKenna would get together with about 30 people every Saturday night and venture into the realms of ayahuasca.

He explains the differences encountered in some cultures; which, in Peru, he finds the Peruvian country folk to be non-confrontational–i.e., “if someone was screwing up, they wouldn’t say so.”

People would talk about you behind your back: via gossip, you would awaken to the problem.

This experience brings McKenna insight into the way that conflict resolution was handled in 1976  amongst the small community of people he was participating in ayahuasca ceremonies with–unfortunately, McKenna does not reveal the ingredients used in the ayahuasca recipe that was brewed during these journeys in the Amazon.


Fardow Terence McKenna


It is curious, from a cultural perspective, to discover that the word McKenna’s coined can today be found in the online Urban Dictionary with example usage, excerpted below, source available at:

1. Fardow

The embarrassment felt when someone else fucks up, and you just happen to be there, but the aura of their failure is so strong that you feel bad for their ineptitude.

When ‘The Situation’ made a stab at “comedy” at the Roast of Donald Trump, the entire room was just awash in fardow. 

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