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A Radical History of Plants, Drugs & Human Evolution For the first time in paperback, the counterculture manifesto on mind-altering drugs & hallucinogens. Illustrated. A Radical History of Plants, Drugs & Human Evolution For the first time in paperback, the counterculture manifesto on mind-altering drugs & hallucinogens. Illustrated.


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A Radical History of Plants, Drugs & Human Evolution For the first time in paperback, the counterculture manifesto on mind-altering drugs & hallucinogens. Illustrated. A Radical History of Plants, Drugs & Human Evolution For the first time in paperback, the counterculture manifesto on mind-altering drugs & hallucinogens. Illustrated.

30 review for Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    The book covers a very wide range of topics, from the description of legal and illegal synthesized drugs, natural drugs, history of drug use, and it´s influence on human evolution and history. Alternative ideas of how something might have developed are always interesting and in this case, two interesting questions come to mind. First how the whole human and before primate evolution, biochemistry, neurological functions, brain development, etc., might have been shaped by coincidence or by conscio The book covers a very wide range of topics, from the description of legal and illegal synthesized drugs, natural drugs, history of drug use, and it´s influence on human evolution and history. Alternative ideas of how something might have developed are always interesting and in this case, two interesting questions come to mind. First how the whole human and before primate evolution, biochemistry, neurological functions, brain development, etc., might have been shaped by coincidence or by consciously consuming certain herbs, plants, berries, mushrooms, etc and second, how this might have influenced the development of all kind of faiths and beliefs. You are what you eat, even if you are just a tiny rodent. That gets more interesting with bigger mammals and very exciting with primates, because a few hundred or thousands of years of consuming, especially during pregnancy, might have some impact. Much fresh seafood mixed with some vegetables and barely any red meat is something different than much carbohydrates, etc. That´s just the normal food and as everyone interested in what is the best fuel for ones´ engine knows, much depends on it. And now take ten thousand or even more years in which apes and human ancestors consume certain mushrooms, herbs, fruits, weed, etc., just because of its effects on the mood or the hallucinations or, most probably, as many animals do, instinctively with a not understood sense or if certain health problems occur and they have memorized the cure. Or just because they wanna get high, probably it´s one of the many reasons why we are so weird. A key element of faith might be that both, drugged shaman, witch doctor, god-emperor, whatever, and the believers experience real hallucinations, highs or, in the case of not so hard stuff, euphory and extreme happiness. No matter if they get secretly drugged by the shamans before a session or the witch doctor floats the room with psychoactive smoke, if they take it together in a ritual, they get welded together by this experience. Founders of sects could find many inspirations by getting high and getting in contact with whatever their already damaged, possibly already mentally ill and sober voice-hearing and vision seeing, minds wanted to imagine. This was often combined with climbing very high mountains, which gives extra weakening to the brain by a lack of oxygen so that the sh** can kick in like hell. The future development can be used for boosting health and longevity by improving the nourishment of the body with as much precious and not hallucinogenic elements of all holy and healthy herbs from around the world, a kind of organic wonder powder from dozens or even hundreds of everything the planet can provide. The options for pimping epigenetics and brain development are the bigger topic, because they may lead to different brain evolutions, depending on what a culture, nation or government prefers to feed to its citizens. Of course, that´s already happening with each traditional diet. Some questions kept rotating in my drug hating mind (works best when sober, although the brain is a vicious traitor who intrigues against us, look, a beer commercial, damn it ): Did some civilizations destroy themselves by overuse of drugs? How do natural substances and all those new food chemicals react with each other, let´s say a dietary mix of natural food with many ingredients, pure industry food with many additives and chemicals and some psychoactive substances out of both categories? What could genetic engineering make possible, like combining the positive or mind-altering aspects in one single plant? A cancer-preventing superweed that makes the memory better, helps to stay slim, growing muscles without exercising, hulking out,… What surprising results may the interdisciplinary field of ethnobiology find in the future both about our past development and the coming influences of what we are consuming right now, looking at you, eating or high reader. What about medical and therapeutical applications? A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicin... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This book is trash. I picked up this book because of an interest in drug culture and history. The premise sounds interesting enough: we stopped doing shrooms and got worse as a society. I'll summarize the book in case the premise sounds interesting to you, so you can get the gist without reading it: - Some ancient cultures used mushrooms. - Lots of cultures MAY have used mushrooms but we'll never know - Mushrooms may have helped the human brain evolve and help us evolve language - Ancient orgies o This book is trash. I picked up this book because of an interest in drug culture and history. The premise sounds interesting enough: we stopped doing shrooms and got worse as a society. I'll summarize the book in case the premise sounds interesting to you, so you can get the gist without reading it: - Some ancient cultures used mushrooms. - Lots of cultures MAY have used mushrooms but we'll never know - Mushrooms may have helped the human brain evolve and help us evolve language - Ancient orgies on mushrooms are good for society because they dissolve social boundaries - He goes into a history of sugar and says it's just as addictive as heroin. - He goes into a history of lsd, cocaine, dmt, heroin, tea. - He suggests we have become male dominated, loss of feminine societies because we removed drugs from everyday society The wikipedia article on shrooms is far more interesting than this book, and better written. That's right, a wikipedia article is more coherent than this book. That should send you running. Terence will present a pseudo idea, and then ramble off into barely related topics until you want to die. It is a chore to read. Instead of any kind of solid research, he glues together tangents into a a rickety web of boredom. Let's look at an example gem from Terence's writing: "The drive for unitary wholeness within the psyche, which is to a degree instinctual, can nevertheless become pathological if pursued in a context in which dissolution of boundaries and rediscovery of the ground of being has been made impossible." Did you zone out while reading that sentence? Imagine 300 pages of that. He has a remarkable way of presenting ideas in a fog of poor writing. It's the same style of writing as a highschooler with a thin grasp of an essay topic and too much access to a thesaurus. It's as if Terence knows his ideas don't hold much water, so he throws in as many slightly related things as possible to make it look like he has a solid theory. The worst is when he gets into his own head without relying on any external sources. When that happens, expect to be liberally skipping paragraphs. This book suffers terribly from not having an editor. Easily 90% could be cut out and not lose any substance. And once you realize that Terence can't even provide interesting accounts of drug trips, you start to think very hard about your life and why you're 200 pages deep in hell. Some of his theories, like mushrooms helping our brains evolve language, are completely unfounded, and he has no research to back it up. This would be fine if he didn't devote dozens of rambling pages to them. You should also probably know that Terence McKenna stopped doing mushrooms in 1998 after a bad trip. To get a full understand of how poor of a communicator Terence is, listen to him speak. Some of his lectures are online. If you can suffer through it, I dare you to try to come up with one thing you learned from hearing him speak. Anyone who claims he is an eloquent speaker, or that the audio book is better, has been tricked by Terence's ability to ramble for hours, and isn't aware they aren't learning anything and that he has no coherent ideas. I don't think ideas about mushrooms and societal integration are bad. I started reading to become more familiar with drug culture and history and potential good uses of psychedelics. But 10 pages in I regretted it. If you think you enjoyed the book then you haven't read any good nonfiction. Compared to persuasive, organized, well researched, non fiction books, Food of the Gods is a pile of trash.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you why this book is FUCKING AMAZING - so you'll just have to trust me. This guy is an ethno-biologist, meaning he studies the interactions of "substances" and world cultures (past and present), and how the two have influenced each other; both biologically, mentally, spiritually, and culturally. This is truly a mind-fuck for those in search of knowledge; even making the (well supported) case that the original "fruit of Eden" was something I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you why this book is FUCKING AMAZING - so you'll just have to trust me. This guy is an ethno-biologist, meaning he studies the interactions of "substances" and world cultures (past and present), and how the two have influenced each other; both biologically, mentally, spiritually, and culturally. This is truly a mind-fuck for those in search of knowledge; even making the (well supported) case that the original "fruit of Eden" was something a bit more taboo than an apple. This book includes, in one capacity or another, almost every drug known to mankind around the world - its bio-cultural effects, origin, history, chemistry, psychedelic nature, spiritual implications, and its candidacy for consideration as; what he calls: The Original Tree of Knowledge. This book goes from primate-substance relationships, through the VERY first recorded religious-substance relationships (they were mushroom worshippers), to modern-day substance relationships. FUCKING FASCINATING. I can't tell you enough. Read it if you aren't scared of knowing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nick Stibbs

    I first encountered McKenna in a New Age bookshop in Brighton, whilst perusing for material to flesh out an essay on Shamanism I was writing. I came home with 'The Archaic Revival', which introduced me to ideas such as the Logos (a rather more funky formulation than the Christian use of the word), the Mayan Calendar and 2012. My humanistic psychology professor, Brian Bates, suggested that McKenna was rather difficult to deal with academically, but nevertheless I proceeded to give a talk on how I I first encountered McKenna in a New Age bookshop in Brighton, whilst perusing for material to flesh out an essay on Shamanism I was writing. I came home with 'The Archaic Revival', which introduced me to ideas such as the Logos (a rather more funky formulation than the Christian use of the word), the Mayan Calendar and 2012. My humanistic psychology professor, Brian Bates, suggested that McKenna was rather difficult to deal with academically, but nevertheless I proceeded to give a talk on how I was starting to perceive that The Logos was gleaming out of the faces of the homeless on the streets of Brighton (in my case, my visionary awakening was due to rather large amounts of skunkweed being consumed). I later read 'The Invisible Landscape' on a Buddhist retreat (inventing my own programme which supplemented meditation for copious amounts of time spent reading other people's books in the dormitory). I had been aware of 'The Food of the Gods' for many, many years but had avoided this book due to its explicit dealing with drugs (I had rather gone off them), though had lodged in my head a recommendation by a poetry teacher (Tom Sherrin) to give it a go, so a month or two ago I ordered the book, basically to get it out of the way. I must say my perception of McKenna has changed now, and although the subject material covers all kinds of substances (most of which I abstain from now ((or use very infrequently)), but most of which I have experimented with to various degrees), the writing style pleasingly mixes academic knowledge and language with a technicolour vision and writing style. I am very happy to engage with this kind of writer, who steers a multidimensional route between the dangers of a too dry, arid manner, and completely losing himself in gushy poetry. McKenna traces the evolution of humanity's relationship with drugs, according to his own historical understanding, from our early 'archaic' roots, where he posits a polyamorous, tribal, cattle-rearing psychedelic culture, which was supplanted by a more patriarchal, horse-riding, dominator society. The history of the world becomes one not of class struggle, but of substance use and repression. He is clearly down on our present-day reliance on alcohol, tobacco and TV and looks forward to a revival of the archaic period, where people, embracing a pluralistic, democratic spirit, will break through into a wider, better, more exciting and celebratory culture, in communion with a re-sacralised nature and awakened to buried dimensions of spiritual intelligence, whether in our own being, or that of elves, angels and so forth. He ends the book with a manifesto and political blueprint for how to get there, which surprisingly, from my perspective, relies on taxation in large part. He would have alcohol and tobacco taxed at 200%, with more warning of their dangers, cannabis legalised, and the rest legalised a year later. McKenna thinks popular fears of the consequences of the legalisation of drugs are analogous to Establishment fears of the eradication of slavery or emancipation of women in the past. On a philosophical note, one of my criticisms of the book is his insistence that the modern belief in the meaninglessness of the world and also the belief that meaning is context-dependent are both wrong. He posits God as a Wholly Other and presumably bearer of a fixed, pre-given Meaning, as revealed perhaps in psychedelic experience. I would suggest, that on analysis, it is hard to argue that meaning is not, to some degree, context-dependent, but I certainly have experienced an archetypal substratum to existence, that he may be hinting at, in which certain patterns seem to be playing out, behind the surface veil of people's lives. This would suggest that there is a structure that is pre-given, but the meaning attributed to that structure would presumably be constructed through an interactive process between the perceiver and the perceived. So, for example, a tree has a structure and pattern behind it, but different people might interpret the meaning of it, in stories or art, depending on their own perspective and the context in which the tree was presented. The World Tree or Axis Mundi is a common motif in mythological sequences, from Norse tales of Odin, to the awakening of the Buddha at the foot of the Bodhi tree, to the crucifixion of Christ which takes him down into hell and then up into heaven, spanning a vertical spectrum of consciousness - all use a similar metaphor to describe dramatic transformations and a vertical wooden presence, but framed in different ways according to the culture. My feeling is that McKenna has been so seduced by the beauty of his own psychedelic experience and the rush of information received through sometimes overwhelming revelation (see 'The Invisible Landscape') that he let his own academic rigour be swayed by the poetry of the vision. What we see, how we interpret what we see, and then how we present what we see are three different things (and tricky, if not impossible, to tease apart the three). Brian Bates may have been correct in his warnings of McKenna's visionary glow obscuring a paucity of analytical thinking. I would also query the pre-history that he talks about, as being a rough sketch of something much more complex and varied. These things are hard to prove but no doubt, some of early humanity liked to get high, just as many animals do, whether by accident or intention. It must be a temptation though, to project experiences of post-modern psychedelic culture and aspirations, onto a pre-modern template. On his treatment of more recent history, he doesn't really do justice to the dangers of psychedelic use, though he does recommend the establishment of a contemporary (neo-)shamanism which would guide people through their experimentation, and I wonder if his inference that intelligence services were hand in glove with criminal drug distribution cartels is quite as black and white as he states. Something I would like to research myself - I've often heard this accusation and don't know to what extent it is true. Finally, McKenna does not talk of other methods, some explicitly shamanic/religious, such as trance-dance, fasting or meditation, others perceived as more universal, such as art and exercise, to achieve 'altered' states of consciousness. These things may be used in an ascetic culture or as compliments to drug experience. We are clearly moving into a more visual culture, a shift which has its roots in the development of photography and then film and TV, which has happened, as far as I know, independently of, or at least in parallel to, psychedelic use. The explosion in the 1960's of psychedelic use will have certainly fueled a momentum which was already happening, which has always been latent in the human psyche, and will have had periods of flourish (cave-painting, Dionysian celebration, Renaissance art), and then repression (Protestant smashing of the stained glass windows and insistence on scripture over sacraments, Taliban destruction of Buddhist statues, ISIS destruction of Palmyra, and the rest). But I think McKenna makes too strict an association between the use of drugs and visionary experience. There are more ways to crack open the egg of consciousness than he gives credit to in his book, and I wonder if he is leading people down a hippy cul de sac/dead-head end, rather than relativising drug use into just one possibility for entrance into the Age of Imagination which he prophecises. McKenna does deserve applause for his positive vision and affirmation of the value of expansion of consciousness. He is a pleasure to read and preferable to the youtube videos which filter his rather nasal, monotonous psychedelic guru voice into your living room. A book which I imagine will be read for a long time henceforth, as different cultures work out their own balance on intoxicating substances.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Garcia

    A lot of people write off Mckenna as a charlatan or performer, but having just discovered him, I'm impressed by his creative thinking and pathos. I encourage everyone to read him, I think his voice is necessary in a world where addictions run rampant and our understanding of ourselves has hit a trough where value is measured by productivity and consumerism. Some of his ideas are way out there, but if you give him a chance and go there with him, without judgement, the ideas will inspire some pret A lot of people write off Mckenna as a charlatan or performer, but having just discovered him, I'm impressed by his creative thinking and pathos. I encourage everyone to read him, I think his voice is necessary in a world where addictions run rampant and our understanding of ourselves has hit a trough where value is measured by productivity and consumerism. Some of his ideas are way out there, but if you give him a chance and go there with him, without judgement, the ideas will inspire some pretty interesting questions. I loved it, Ill read it again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    No

         This is a pretty amazing book and a lot of new subject matter for me, and also my first encounter with Terence McKenna's work. I will probably read this again someday and learn just as much as I did the first time. Interesting subjects such as shamanism, evolution, philosophy, language, DMT, cave art, classical art, addictions, religion, rituals, and also very old short stories and the authors interpretation on how they relate to the mind altering mushrooms that give us that glimpse. TV as      This is a pretty amazing book and a lot of new subject matter for me, and also my first encounter with Terence McKenna's work. I will probably read this again someday and learn just as much as I did the first time. Interesting subjects such as shamanism, evolution, philosophy, language, DMT, cave art, classical art, addictions, religion, rituals, and also very old short stories and the authors interpretation on how they relate to the mind altering mushrooms that give us that glimpse. TV as a drug, and also brief histories of cannabis, opium, hashish, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, and honey. All of this and much more packed into 275 pages makes for an educational thought provoking book.      Terrance McKenna makes a good case for psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms) playing a decisive role in our evolution. Just one mans theory but one that has a lot of clues, art, literature and history to tie it all together and back it up. He also talks about many different Gods and Goddesses, but i look at them as representatives of natural forces and do not take them literally like most dolts do. McKenna can also get deep and philosophical at times talking about other dimensions and quantum physics, and our understanding of planetary purpose which kept reminding me of what one of my favorite authors David Lane had written in the 88 precepts of natural law. In precept no. 8 it says;  "What men call the super natural is actually the natural not yet understood or revealed." Are plants the missing link? Quotes and Notes: *Author makes association that when eve ate the forbidden fruit it was psilocybin-containing mushrooms. "The government not only restricts research on psychedelics that could conceivably yield valuable psychological and medical insights, it presumes to prevent their religious and spiritual use, as well." "I learned in India that religion, in all times and places where the luminous flame of the spirit has guttered low, is no more than a hustle." pg.6 quote "...beta-carbolines can be used in conduction with DMT to prolong and intensify visual hallucinations. ... until very recently virtually unknown to the general public." "...the knowledge that certain plants, certain compounds, unlock forgotten doorways onto worlds of immediate experience that confound our science, and indeed, confound us. Properly understood and applied, this information can become a compass leading us back to the lost garden world of our origins." "It (Psilocybin) excites vocalization; it empowers articulation; it transmutes language into something visibly beheld." "Agriculture brings with it potential for overproduction, which leads to excess wealth, hoarding, and trade. Trade leads to cities; cities isolate their inhabitants from the natural world." "Rains usually followed the new moon in the tropics, making mushrooms plentiful. Gatherings took place at night; night is the time of magical projection and hallucinations, and visions are more easily obtained in darkness." *The Goddess, Gaia = Earth "The mushroom, seen to be as much a product of cattle as are milk, meat, and manure, was recognized very early as the physical connection to the presence of the Goddess. This is the secret that was lost some six thousand years ago at the eclipse of Çatal Hüyük." *Neolithic - last phase of the stone age, domesticated animals and development of agriculture. *Paleolithic - early phase of the stone age in Africa, stone tools and cave paintings. *a planet dying under moral anesthesia "Without such a visionary relationship to psychedelic exopheromones that regulate our symbiotic relationship with the plant kingdom, we stand outside of an understanding of planetary purpose. And understanding planetary purpose may be the major contribution that we can make to the evolutionary process." "The notion of illegal plants is obnoxious and ridiculous in the first place." "The consumption of sauma (Soma) may have been the only means recognized in Iranian religion of seeing into menog existence before death;" "...whatever Soma was, it was a visionary intoxicant of tremendous power and an unparalleled hallucinogen." "As honey itself easily ferments into an alcoholic intoxicant, it is possible that over time a practice of mixing fewer and fewer mushrooms in more and more honey may have encouraged replacement of the mushroom cult with a cult of mead." (psilocybin to alcohol) "...the flesh of Stropharia cubensis and other psilocybin mushrooms has the property of staining a bluish color when bruised or broken. This blue staining is an enzymatic reaction and a fairly reliable indicator of the presence of psilocybin." "Christianity's triumph ended the glorification of nature and planet as supreme spiritual forces." "Wife beating without alcohol is like a circus without lions." *Witches that were burned at the stake were most likely the free thinkers, scientists and philosophers "...impressed by the beauty, power, and general depth of information contained in the experience. His approach is not hedonistic but knowledge seeking," "William Randolph Hearst popularized the term "marijuana" with a clear intent of linking it to a mistrusted dark-skinned underclass." "After alcohol and tobacco, sugar is the most damaging addictive substance consumed by human beings." "The poppy-growing areas that are the source of raw opium are closely monitored by phot surveillance satellites," "Yet when the seed capsule is scratched with blade or fingernail, a milky latex-like material soon accumulates and, as it hardens, turns a dark brown. This material is raw opium." *Book: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (WWII had been won by the Japanese and the Third Reich, first move was legalizing marijuana in CA to pacify the population.) "Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation." (who runs the media?) "The children of Ken and Barbie briefly broke out of the television intoxication in the mid-sixties through the use of hallucinogens. "Oops," responded the dominators, and they quickly made psychedelics illegal and halted all research. A double dose of TV therapy plus cocaine was ordered up for the errant hippies, and they were quickly cured and turned into consumption-oriented yuppies. Only a recalcitrant few escaped this leveling of values. Nearly everyone learned to love Big Brother." "Mescaline is a powerful visionary phenethylamine that occurs in the peyote cactus Lophophora williamsii." *LSD / Albert Hofmann / Basel, Switzerland / trying to produce new drugs to ease childbirth placed LSD-25 in storage / April 16, 1943 / handling the chemical without gloves he left work early and set off on his bicycle, went home and laid down and tripped / 1947 news of his discovery was out and landless box was flung open *Book: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (male European intellectual grappling with the true dimensions of consciousness and the cosmos) "In 1956 the Czech chemist Steven Szara synthesized dimethyltryptamine, DMT." "...television for the poor and cocaine for the rich." *illegalization of LSD October, 1966 "Good technique is obvious: one sits down, one shuts up, and one pays attention. That is the essence of good technique. These journeys should be taken on an empty stomach, in silent darkness, and in a situation of comfort, familiarity, and security. ... Study the darkness behind closed eyelids with the expectation of seeing something." "These experiences range from mild tingling in the feet to being in titanic and alien realms where the mind boggles and language fails." "The existence of this dimension of knowable meaning that appears to be without connection to ones personal past or aspirations seems to argue that we are facing either a thinking Other or the deep structures of the psyche made suddenly visible." "Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hooper

    This book is great-much more than a treatise on "shrooms" and dope. Have you ever thought about the mind altering power of purified sugar, the politics of coffee, and the parallels between these and what we consider to be more dangerous drugs like cocaine?

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    What a great book! The decision to close out 2008 with this book was made easier by my last McKenna review. In Food of the Gods, McKenna takes a historical look at the relationship between plants and human beings. This relationship is described in four parts: I. Paradise II. Paradise Lost III. Hell IV. Paradise Regained? The first part of the book explains the conditions in place that forced human evolution. Namely, psylocybin mushrooms. Soma, a conscious-expanding, ecstacy-inducing drug of prehi What a great book! The decision to close out 2008 with this book was made easier by my last McKenna review. In Food of the Gods, McKenna takes a historical look at the relationship between plants and human beings. This relationship is described in four parts: I. Paradise II. Paradise Lost III. Hell IV. Paradise Regained? The first part of the book explains the conditions in place that forced human evolution. Namely, psylocybin mushrooms. Soma, a conscious-expanding, ecstacy-inducing drug of prehistory, is said to have played an important part in the establishment of consciousness. Although the exact definition of Soma has never been found, McKenna has certainly done his homework and presents all sides of the research surrounding this elusive compound. In addition, McKenna’s description of the environment that early humans thrived in is truly one-of-a-kind. The second and third parts of the book focus on the restriction of psychedelic medicines, which is then followed by these plants being ignored and forgotten. I found McKenna’s explanation of sugar (found in a chapter also dealing with coffee, tea and chocolate) to be enlightening. Here is one of his passages: Sugar is culturally defined by us as a food. This definition denies that sugar can act as a highly addictive drug, yet the evidence is all around us. Many children and compulsive eaters live in a motivational environment primarily rule by mood swings resulting from cravings for sugar. The final part of the book holds McKenna’s advice to society. In short, he says that we should reexamine our relationships with nature and truly ask ourselves which plants have proven more beneficial to our understanding of The Other, and which plants have been symbiotic with what he calls the dominator society. The end of Food of the Gods contained many innovative and honest passages. I have selected the following passage as a summation of McKenna’s aim in writing this book: I have attempted here to examine our biological history and our more recent cultural history with an eye to something that may have been missed. My theme was human arrangements with plants, made and broken over the millennia. These relationships have shaped every aspect of our identities as self-reflecting beings--our languages, our cultural values, our sexual behavior, what we remember and what we forget about our own past. Plants are the missing link in the search to understand the human mind and its place in nature. Overall, this book comes highly recommended. I liked it even more than the last McKenna book, The Archaic Revival, which I recently reviewed. 4/5 stars. 311 pages. Published in 1992.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    The greatest books I’ve ever read on the subject of drugs, evolution and culture. I’ve thought a a lot about some of the ideas McKenna shares in this book, but this book brought it all together. McKenna was way ahead of his time as he anticipated modern developments and provides the only real solution to our modern problems. This solution involves returning to a partnership culture by rekindling our relationship with nature and ourselves with psychedelics, putting an end to the dominator culture The greatest books I’ve ever read on the subject of drugs, evolution and culture. I’ve thought a a lot about some of the ideas McKenna shares in this book, but this book brought it all together. McKenna was way ahead of his time as he anticipated modern developments and provides the only real solution to our modern problems. This solution involves returning to a partnership culture by rekindling our relationship with nature and ourselves with psychedelics, putting an end to the dominator culture which controls our politics and governments. Here are 3 great quotes from the text: “It cannot be said too often: the psychedelic issue is a civil rights and civil liberties issue. It is an issue concerned with the most basic of human freedoms: religious practice and the privacy of the individual mind.” ‪”The enhanced capacity for cognitive experience made possible by psychedelics is as basic a part of our humanness as is our sexuality. The question of how quickly we develop into a mature community able to address these issues lies entirely with us.‬” “At the foundation of the American theory of social polity is the notion that our inalienable rights include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." To pretend that the right to the pursuit of happiness does not include the right to experiment with psychoactive plants and substances is to make an argument that is at best narrow and at worst ignorant and primitive. The only religions that are more than the traditionally sanctioned moral codes are trance, dance ecstasy, and intoxication by hallucinogens. The living fact of the mystery of being is there, and it is an inalienable religiouS right to be able to approach it on one's own terms. A civilized society would enshrine that principle in law.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cwn_annwn_13

    I have listened to several lectures and interviews by and with McKenna but this is the first book by him I have read. With McKenna there are always things I agree with, disagree with, think to myself well maybe and some things I write off as sheer kookery but I always found him and his ideas interesting. There is a lot I totally or partially disagree with in this. He really pushes his theory that early man injesting Psilocybin mushrooms caused the brain to evolve to a state where man was able to I have listened to several lectures and interviews by and with McKenna but this is the first book by him I have read. With McKenna there are always things I agree with, disagree with, think to myself well maybe and some things I write off as sheer kookery but I always found him and his ideas interesting. There is a lot I totally or partially disagree with in this. He really pushes his theory that early man injesting Psilocybin mushrooms caused the brain to evolve to a state where man was able to have language, imagination and creativity. I feel like this theory is vaguely possible but extremely sketchy. For one thing I believe the white race is effected differently than non whites by psycheldelics. Plus whites have much more powerful imaginations and the ability to create both in and out of their heads. Before the brainwashed hippy types that read McKennas books start pointing fingers and condemning me for saying this I've read stuff where even these South American Indian shamans that guide white people through Ayhuasca sessions have said they believe that it effects whites differently than other races. I'm also not into how McKenna for a guy that thinks outside the box still blindly accepts the out of Africa theory for the origins of humanity. McKenna is big on Psilocybin Mushrooms and Ayhuasca/DMT. I have experience with mushrooms but none with Ayhuasca/DMT but I think these can be a gateway but are not the "Tree of Knowledge" as he calls it. He also doesn't promote Cannabis (the true "tree of knowledge" if there is such a thing) enough. He also doesn't condemn hard drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Methamphetamine enough. I also think he should give a strong caution about heavy psychedelics. People often aren't quite prepared for what they are in for. While I'm not against people using Mushrooms, Peyote or Ayhuasca I also don't think everybody is cut out for using them. These are not casual or party drugs. All those criticisms aside I did enjoy Food of the Gods. He really nails down the truth on what a brain numbing and dumbing down drug television is and has lots of interesting ideas. Like I said I don't always agree with McKenna but he's always interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Павел Степанов

    This one is no doubt one of my personal favourites, and i recomend it to every open-minded person. I sincerely hope, that every reader will understand it correctly, yet i understand that this is impossible. Whenever you would like to discuss the book, i would like to join the discussion.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Lindgren

    I did not care for this book. There were a few parts I did like, including a wealth of historical information about the use of psychedelics in various cultures throughout history, and some interesting theories about their role in the development of both ancient and modern religions. In fact, there are many interesting theories throughout the book, the most famous of these being the "stoned ape" theory. Unfortunately, that theory, and likely many of the others McKenna presents, is nothing more tha I did not care for this book. There were a few parts I did like, including a wealth of historical information about the use of psychedelics in various cultures throughout history, and some interesting theories about their role in the development of both ancient and modern religions. In fact, there are many interesting theories throughout the book, the most famous of these being the "stoned ape" theory. Unfortunately, that theory, and likely many of the others McKenna presents, is nothing more than speculation unsupported by any real scientific evidence. (In fact, part of his argument for the stoned ape theory is based on misrepresentation of one particular study.) I can handle crackpot theories if they're interesting enough to contemplate, which McKenna's are. But what I can't handle is his constant, tiresome moralizing. I support the legalization of all drugs, and especially cannabis and psychedelics, but those of us who oppose prohibition have to be realistic about the likely benefits and drawbacks of such a policy change. McKenna is anything but; he literally believes that widespread use of psychedelics is the only thing that can save the planet from imminent apocalypse caused by human greed and egoism. And yet, for someone who almost literally worships psychedelics, he actually is actually highly judgmental of the use of drugs other than marijuana and psychedelics. In fact, he seems to imply some distinction between plant-based hallucinogens and other drugs (a category in which he also includes TV, caffeine and sugar). Having thus redefined "drugs" to mean things that he thinks have a negative cultural influence, he is more or less flatly anti-drug. In building a case for the harms of "drugs," he propagates the same kind of misinformation that he decries when government agencies employ it against his preferred substances. For instance, he repeatedly claims that crack cocaine is more addictive and therefore more dangerous than powder cocaine, but as Dr. Carl Hart demonstrates in his book, this is not true. Maybe it's unfair to judge McKenna on this point, as this book is more than 20 years old, so he didn't have access to the same information we do today. But his distaste of drugs such as caffeine and sugar is partly a consequence of his condemnation of "patriarchal dominator culture," in favor of "partnership" cultures. This divide, which McKenna also represents as being entirely black and white, is yet more baseless idealism, and a clear example of the "noble savage" trope. Although McKenna explicitly acknowledges that trope as something to be avoided, he continually represents modern civilization as corrupted if not outright evil, while literally referring to archaic societies as "paradise." There are numerous individual paragraphs that could be excerpted from this book and would be good reading on their own, but the work as a whole is deeply flawed, and ultimately I felt like reading it was a waste of my time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marshall

    This guy really likes drugs. A lot. He mostly just alternates between talking about how great drugs are, giving an overview of historic cultures and people who thought drugs were great, and developing an ideology around how great drugs are. Before I rip it to shreds, I'll talk about the good points this book makes. For a society so scientifically advanced, which is devoted to objective research to understand our world and ourselves, it is strange how little we understand drugs, its effects on hum This guy really likes drugs. A lot. He mostly just alternates between talking about how great drugs are, giving an overview of historic cultures and people who thought drugs were great, and developing an ideology around how great drugs are. Before I rip it to shreds, I'll talk about the good points this book makes. For a society so scientifically advanced, which is devoted to objective research to understand our world and ourselves, it is strange how little we understand drugs, its effects on human beings, or why they have those effects. There is very little substantive basis for determining which specific drugs are dangerous and should be outlawed, and which are harmless or even beneficial in certain conditions. We tend to rely on public ignorance and fears to drive the drug laws, which would be funny if it wasn't for all the people in jail for no reason or dying in drug wars. Our relationship with drugs is almost one of paranoia and superstition. We outlaw things more out of fear than a clear understanding of the actual dangers. It does seem like we can learn something about human psychology and physiology by understanding drugs better, their effects, and their actual dangers. Maybe they're a portal into another dimension, contact with alien lifeforms, contact with God. And that's where this book starts to get silly. It practically turns drugs into a new religion. I recently finished a book, called Seat of the Soul, that amazed me in how people will just dream up new ideologies based on the stuff they think is cool, and then try to rope in popular politics and modern science (especially physics and biology) to support it. This book does the same thing. These new ideologies take the generic form of: we as a species used to be awesome. But we're starting to suck because we lost our way (e.g. no longer close to the Earth or no longer spiritual). This was the fault of insert enemy group here. If we want to be really awesome and reach our true potential, then we need to follow this new ideology I just pulled out of my ass. We need to completely restructure all of society around my radical politics. If we don't, then we're doomed. It's common for them to misunderstand evolution. When you don't know what the hell you're talking about, but you want to sound like modern biology is on your side, and you want to develop a transcendent philosophy, it's tempting to assume that evolution means progress. The name evolution might sound like it implies a kind of biological progress, but that's not what it is. Darwin himself regretted the name evolution for that reason. Evolution is about being well-suited to your environment, not better or more advanced. It's not possible to be "more" or "less" evolved. Humans are not "more" evolved, and we certainly are not on some cosmic path of spiritual enlightenment through evolution. McKenna's philosophy is basically that human beings have evolved into a higher species because they discovered psychotropic plants and ingested a lot of them. He think drugs are great. They allowed human beings to leap ahead of other species, and it was mostly women, the plant gatherers of society, who did this. They discovered the plants, created agriculture, and developed language. But then the aggressive men got jealous of how awesome women were, and they created a patriarchal, dominator culture. Thus started a centuries-long conspiracy to suppress consciousness that continues to this day through corporate advertising and television. Because of men's bullying, we as a species suck now too. If we want to be awesome again, we need to put women in charge and take lots of drugs. Then we'll start evolving again, into something truly awesome, called the archaic revival. "Go green or die," he declares. Does this line of reasoning sound familiar? Try nearly every religion every created. The fall of mankind, heaven to entice you, hell to threaten you. All of it centered around the particular values of the religion's creator(s). Do what I say, and you will be enlightened, society will be saved, etc. Defy me, and you will suffer the consequences. You can do this pretty much with anything, including taking drugs.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nati S

    Sometimes I ask myself some weird questions like what would a new color look like? Or what exists outside the universe? Or what happens when I die? And sometimes I wonder about the existence of reality itself. Psychedelics are super interesting. Society considers them as drugs in a similar way as cigarettes or some other stimulants. But this book shows that they are quite different. For a start, these things are naturally occurring in plants and in our bodies, plus, current and archaic societies Sometimes I ask myself some weird questions like what would a new color look like? Or what exists outside the universe? Or what happens when I die? And sometimes I wonder about the existence of reality itself. Psychedelics are super interesting. Society considers them as drugs in a similar way as cigarettes or some other stimulants. But this book shows that they are quite different. For a start, these things are naturally occurring in plants and in our bodies, plus, current and archaic societies have been using them for a long time. The fact that these plants are strictly prohibited and culturally discouraged without any serious reasons related to health tells me that these things have the potential/ability to destroy/transform the assumptions upon which our culture is based. I am not saying that I think everything the author says is right; all I am saying is that even if some of it is correct, it might be something worth considering. These plants might contain the things that are able to reveal what lies beyond the impenetrable edge of the universe within which I exist. I thought I would give 4 stars but the last section of the book changed my mind. "Like sexuality, altered states of consciousness are taboo because they are consciously or unconsciously sensed to be entwined with the mysteries of our origin—with where we came from and how we got to be the way we are. Such experiences dissolve boundaries and threaten the order of reigning patriarchy and domination of society by unreflecting expression of ego." "The effect of these compounds is largely psychological and is only partially culturally conditioned; in fact, the compounds act to dissolve cultural conditioning of any sort. They force the corrosive process of reform of community values. Such compounds should be recognized as deconditioning agents."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    I picked this book off Michael Miley's shelves while visiting him in Sonoma having read previously McKenna's Archaic Revival. Since reading that and Food of the Gods I've enjoyed many hours of listening to recordings of McKenna's lectures. This book is a highly speculative, yet plausible, account of how human evolution may have been influenced by psychoactive mushrooms. McKenna's claims that low dosages of psychedelics enhance visual acuity and therefore confer reproductive advantage to those pop I picked this book off Michael Miley's shelves while visiting him in Sonoma having read previously McKenna's Archaic Revival. Since reading that and Food of the Gods I've enjoyed many hours of listening to recordings of McKenna's lectures. This book is a highly speculative, yet plausible, account of how human evolution may have been influenced by psychoactive mushrooms. McKenna's claims that low dosages of psychedelics enhance visual acuity and therefore confer reproductive advantage to those populations utilizing them has some credibility as such seems to be the case. Indeed, I recently talked about this with my opthamologist. The drug does expand the pupils, allowing more sensory input. Beyond that, the experience of interpretation seems to be enhanced in ways which might be of use, in low dosages, for hunting. So far as McKenna's claims for am increase in the sex drive, another reproductive advantage, go, I have no opinion. That likely has much to do with set and setting. In any case, I've not experienced it as characteristic nor have I seen literature supporting the assertion. One is reminded of accounts of modern pygmies smoking marijuana before hunts. It affords them the effective patience to stand still for long periods while awaiting prey. That too is a plausible case of a drug affording a reproductive advantage.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason Cihelka

    thanks Terence, i'm gonna go do shrooms now... But seriously, on second reading I applaud how concise and descriptive this book truly is. It might take a few times to get into it, but you'll come away with a very interesting perspective.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rand

    If we were ever truly enlightened, you would recollect skimming this tome with me from time to time. Now pass the coffee.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Sprague

    among the things really enjoyed about this book would be the authors mentioning of lesser thought of drugs like coffee, chocolate, sugar, and television. i enjoyed the open minded approach towards often not conventional forms of thinking and really enjoyed the in depth arguments made for each point. overall i enjoyed the book, despite its dense middle section that seemed to stretch forever, and really appreciated the dedication to talking about the control of drugs and the drug trade by governme among the things really enjoyed about this book would be the authors mentioning of lesser thought of drugs like coffee, chocolate, sugar, and television. i enjoyed the open minded approach towards often not conventional forms of thinking and really enjoyed the in depth arguments made for each point. overall i enjoyed the book, despite its dense middle section that seemed to stretch forever, and really appreciated the dedication to talking about the control of drugs and the drug trade by governments and people in power

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mitch S

    At first when I saw the title of the book I expected a list and history of the worlds drugs. It includes that, but so much more. The book is basically a history of humanity thus far and our relationship with drugs. It was only recently in our history (~100 years) that drugs became taboo. What was the crucial turning point for mankind? Did we suddenly become smarter and realize drugs are bad? No, the dominator society decided introspective drug taking interfered with consumer culture. (Read this At first when I saw the title of the book I expected a list and history of the worlds drugs. It includes that, but so much more. The book is basically a history of humanity thus far and our relationship with drugs. It was only recently in our history (~100 years) that drugs became taboo. What was the crucial turning point for mankind? Did we suddenly become smarter and realize drugs are bad? No, the dominator society decided introspective drug taking interfered with consumer culture. (Read this book son, not gonna say any more on that) An interesting theory is put forth saying that psilocybin and other tryptamines help humankind evolve language. It goes through recorded stages from neanderthal to modern hominids, there is an undeniable "missing link" that happens where humans brain triples in size within an implausible amount of time according to standard evolution. (READ THIS BOOK) Then it does contain a history of the drugs and how modern humans use drugs in a consuming, dominator style (explained in book). Before this, "drugs" were used in helping to connect with the world around us. It is only recently in our history that we consider drug culture "adverse to social values" and the book explains why. Basically with the discovery of alcohol, humanity changed from fun loving nature people, into greed driven, all consuming, self righteous know-it-alls. The book very convincingly paints this picture and will make you question why some drugs are illegal and others are fine. (hint hint the government wants you to be complacent and never have an introspective, questioning moment in your life) Read this book mothfckas!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rahima

    McKenna neither validates nor condemns drug use. He seems to focus heavily on mushrooms and Cocaine. Like they have a special place in his heart for one reason or another. Boomers more for its exploration of the soul, and Cocaine for its long history of human use. He's a little less insane than his reputation made him out to be. So intellectual. Clearly, he hasn't yet lost his mind. I feel like if McKenna had his way, a mushroom experience would be a requirement for life, and nicotine and alcoho McKenna neither validates nor condemns drug use. He seems to focus heavily on mushrooms and Cocaine. Like they have a special place in his heart for one reason or another. Boomers more for its exploration of the soul, and Cocaine for its long history of human use. He's a little less insane than his reputation made him out to be. So intellectual. Clearly, he hasn't yet lost his mind. I feel like if McKenna had his way, a mushroom experience would be a requirement for life, and nicotine and alcohol- society's "okay" drugs, would be considered the root of all evil. His emphasis on chocolate and television were particularly amusing, as if to say, "It doesn't matter what your poison is. We all have one. Don't feel special." He also seems to have a disdain for hard narcotics, as I suppose most psychonauts do. If we're using drugs as an escape rather than a spiritual exploration, then we're not using them for the right reasons, in his view. Commendable, if not a little cliche. It flits back and forth between western society and shamanism, and their differences in the way of drug use. Reminds us that there are very different worlds. The DMT Experience was either insightful or psychotic. I can't decide.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danceswithcats

    Ha! I read this at university, when I was hanging around with a load of deadheads. It's one of those labours of love by someone who has a good idea that's probably unprovable. At the time, I thought it was really, like, wow, man, but, having been around people who have found anything but wisdom from their relationships with drugs, I am fairly sure it would piss me off if I read it again. I can still recite the first line of the CD he did with the Shaman: Human CONSCIOUSNESS represents such a RADIC Ha! I read this at university, when I was hanging around with a load of deadheads. It's one of those labours of love by someone who has a good idea that's probably unprovable. At the time, I thought it was really, like, wow, man, but, having been around people who have found anything but wisdom from their relationships with drugs, I am fairly sure it would piss me off if I read it again. I can still recite the first line of the CD he did with the Shaman: Human CONSCIOUSNESS represents such a RADICAL break from the forces of BIOLOGICAL evolution that PRECEEDED it, that it MUST indicate some kind of ATTRACTOR or DWELL POINT in the history of...blah blah blah. I'd pretty much forgotten all about it. It's like an odd little footnote in the attempts to challenge the hegemony of materialist rationalisms that were around in the late eighties and early nineties, then got mostly shouted down in the new millennium. I remember loving it when I was stoned, but I wouldn't care to read it now.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clay

    Fanciful ideas and interesting concepts, but at the end of the day chuck-full of new age psycho-babble. Some of the things he asserts are interesting and engaging to think about and entertain, but most of what he says seems to be fueled by his own adventures as a psychonaut and not concepts that are based in any measurable reality.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris C

    forgot I even read this until I stumbled upon it earlier- will be re-reading in between novels- Reminds you, Man has always required food, shelter, precreation and of course, getting out of ones' head.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shridhar Sp

    I picked this one after having heard about it as a suggestion by Steven West in his 'Philosophize This!' podcast. The premise of the book is to clear our the stigma against plant based psychedelics, especially the psilocybin mushrooms, by explaining the evolutionary, historical and religious basis of usage of mushrooms and then what suddenly happened, that turned the tide against it, in the contemporary societies. Terence McKenna weaves the story of human experience with psychedelics and altered I picked this one after having heard about it as a suggestion by Steven West in his 'Philosophize This!' podcast. The premise of the book is to clear our the stigma against plant based psychedelics, especially the psilocybin mushrooms, by explaining the evolutionary, historical and religious basis of usage of mushrooms and then what suddenly happened, that turned the tide against it, in the contemporary societies. Terence McKenna weaves the story of human experience with psychedelics and altered states of mind by breaking down different intoxications into 'heaven, losing heaven, hell & how to regain that heaven.' The heaven in human experience when humans discovered the 'transcendental other' by accidentally discovered psilocybin mushrooms. This gave these human ancestors an evolutionary advantage of being able to communicate with the earth goddess (Gaia.. Shoutout to that 'Rick & Morty' episode YKIYK), edge detection in vision, higher sexual drive. Though speculation, it makes for a good argument, when he goes on to connect the influence of mushrooms through art that has been found at Natufian and Cutul Huyuk sites. At the same time of propounding these ideas, Terence touches upon shamanism and the practise of the same to piece together an argument for proving superiority of (what he calls) partnership societies over the present day dominator societies, which do not value the community practices and co-existence with nature, as did our ancestors. Through the retelling of discovery of other substitutes for this 'food of the god' (mushroom), Terence takes us through a journey of Soma (Indian vedic concoction, widely debated to be either psilocybin mushrooms or Amanita Muscara), tea, coffee, tobacco, cacao, alcohol, synthetics and other mind altering consumables, we today as a society have no problem with. All his arguments in wanting to unregulate and allow use of plant based psychedelics are convincing, by the end, it does seem a bit one-sided. The argument might seem quite objective at a individual level, however, as a society, we might be a little too multi-cultural to go in for an 'archaic revival'. I surely did enjoy the book, for I learnt so much on the subject. However, I would not rate it a full 5 since this is an overt argument to prove a certain viewpoint. I will surely pick other Terence McKenna books, since the topic or even the argument or the possibility is interesting in explaining how we got to be here. Some interesting things I read in the book: - On discovery of consciousness - The possibility of cow worship in Indian culture because mushrooms grew around cow dung (?!) - Relationship of Christian morality with slavery when coffee, tea and sugar was traded - Tracing the human(-ish) journey from the savannahs of Africa to Palestine to Cutul Huyuk and the symbolism of mushrooms in all these cultures up until Minoan civilization

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Duncan

    I can't say I had a great time reading this all the way through, but I did towards the end... probably because I haven't read a book in so long, or I've been stressed all around and I was relieved to be almost through with it. BUT, I was expecting to read more about the magical effects of mushrooms, as used in shamanism and old-world paganism, so it was hard to stay interested when the book turned into a politically persuasive commentary on society every few lines, rather than the mysterious and I can't say I had a great time reading this all the way through, but I did towards the end... probably because I haven't read a book in so long, or I've been stressed all around and I was relieved to be almost through with it. BUT, I was expecting to read more about the magical effects of mushrooms, as used in shamanism and old-world paganism, so it was hard to stay interested when the book turned into a politically persuasive commentary on society every few lines, rather than the mysterious and therapeutic effects of these strange species of fungi (and other expansive chemicals). The table of contents didn't seem that weighted in moral speculation when I reviewed it beforehand. So, that was disappointing... Also, the way he sometimes writes does seem pretentious - as in, using an obscure word in some way that really had little use in saying... that does get frustrating considering what he's trying to say really doesn't need to be broken down that hard. I think his plan to legalize drugs is great. To tax psychedelics 200%?... not so much. Why be so quick to put emphasis on the government? I don't necessarily disagree with a lot of his politics, but as I said, I was looking for more facts and a more detailed history of psychedelic use and their influence on religion, prehistoric tribes and evolution, indigenous culture/shamanism, etc. A lot more detail of historical facts and statistics would go well with his speculation and persuasive opinion... Some of the history of The Rites Of Eleusis and influence on the Cult of Dionysus was really great... I did love the parts on the limitations of language and it's distortion of our perception. Also, the psychology and neuroscience was a good read, too. Some quotes I underlined: "The shamanic faith is that humanity is not without allies. There are forces friendly to our struggle to birth ourselves as an intelligent species. But they are quiet and shy..." "If language is accepted as the primary datum of knowing, then we in the West have been sadly misled." "In fact our ordinary cultural environment is correctly recognized, during the experience of the altered state, as the bass drone in the ongoing linguistic business of objectifying the imagination." "For the shaman, it is as if existence were uttering itself through him." (or her) All in all, the read is good/ok; but the message to world is great - I feel like I have to respect it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Ball

    "The evidence gathered from millennia of shamanic experience argues that the world is actually made of language in some fashion. Although at odds with the expectations of modern science, this radical proposition is in agreement with much of current linguistic thinking. "The twentieth-century linguistic revolution," says Boston University anthropologist Misia Landau, "is the recognition that language is not merely a device for communicating ideas about the world, but rather a tool for bringing th "The evidence gathered from millennia of shamanic experience argues that the world is actually made of language in some fashion. Although at odds with the expectations of modern science, this radical proposition is in agreement with much of current linguistic thinking. "The twentieth-century linguistic revolution," says Boston University anthropologist Misia Landau, "is the recognition that language is not merely a device for communicating ideas about the world, but rather a tool for bringing the world into existence in the first place. Reality is not simply `experienced' or `reflected' in language, but instead is actually produced by language. " From the point of view of the shaman, the world appears to be more in the nature of an utterance or a tale than in any way related to the leptons and baryons or charge and spin that our high priests, the physicists, speak of. For the shaman, the cosmos is a tale that becomes true as it is told, and as it tells itself. This perspective implies that human imagination can seize the tiller of being in the world. Freedom, personal responsibility, and a humbling awareness of the true size and intelligence of the world combine in this point of view to make it a fitting basis for living an authentic neo-Archaic life. A reverence for and an immersion in the powers of language and communication are the basis of the shamanic path."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kazik

    Terence writes poetry masked as non-fiction. Although the evidence for the stoned ape theory is lacking, he nonetheless provides a compelling history of our relationship to mind altering substances. It's the sort of book that holds up a mirror to our own pharmo-cultural background, which at first is shocking due to the pervasiveness of 21st century drugs (alchohol, coffee, sugar, etc.) but ultimately liberating in that it provides a historical background to reflect from. The history of what Tere Terence writes poetry masked as non-fiction. Although the evidence for the stoned ape theory is lacking, he nonetheless provides a compelling history of our relationship to mind altering substances. It's the sort of book that holds up a mirror to our own pharmo-cultural background, which at first is shocking due to the pervasiveness of 21st century drugs (alchohol, coffee, sugar, etc.) but ultimately liberating in that it provides a historical background to reflect from. The history of what Terence refers to as "dominator cultures" is especially interesting, as he clearly shows the degree to which our drive for certain drugs and foods led to the structure of today's global market. He ends with a call to continue research so that we can make educated choices about the kinds of subtances we use and abuse. I will definitely be reading it again and am grateful for this psychedelic pioneer and his research.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Egolf

    Similar in form to Sapiens and The Tipping Point in anthropologist narration but the subject matter is focused deeply on the importance of mind altering plant life to human evolution and culture, from psilocybin containing mushrooms to purified sugar. We know much more now than when this book was written, but while some things have changed that are closer to his libertarian, feminist, legalized but heavily taxed drug culture wishes of the future where people finally realize how important our con Similar in form to Sapiens and The Tipping Point in anthropologist narration but the subject matter is focused deeply on the importance of mind altering plant life to human evolution and culture, from psilocybin containing mushrooms to purified sugar. We know much more now than when this book was written, but while some things have changed that are closer to his libertarian, feminist, legalized but heavily taxed drug culture wishes of the future where people finally realize how important our connection to the planet really is, we are still far from collective understanding. Unfortunately the book is basically a huge string of interesting hypothetical ideas that have little real information to back up the claims other than even more gossamer thin evidence.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    One imagines there are two main audiences for this book: The skeptic looking for alternative narratives and the psychedelic faithful looking to justify their drug use. Both will find much to chew on. The book's thesis is bold: Drugs literally, evolutionarily, helped shape the unusual level of metacognition which appears to set humanity apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The narrative is plausible, but without even going into the weeds of the theory it's worth noting that the book was publis One imagines there are two main audiences for this book: The skeptic looking for alternative narratives and the psychedelic faithful looking to justify their drug use. Both will find much to chew on. The book's thesis is bold: Drugs literally, evolutionarily, helped shape the unusual level of metacognition which appears to set humanity apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The narrative is plausible, but without even going into the weeds of the theory it's worth noting that the book was published in 1992 and its author died in 2000. The last 27 years have added much to our understanding of early humanity of which I am very much ignorant. Thought provoking, if perhaps a stretch.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    There was a lot of really cool stuff in here about dominator culture and historical systematic oppression of minorities, immigrants and indigenous peoples via drugs and hallucinogenic plants (or the lack of). The writing itself was kind of boring, and sometimes hard to follow since it’s presented in a non-linear format. But over all, it’s good food for thought.

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