Podcast 221 – McKenna: “Evolving Times”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

Alex Grey's "Stoned Ape"“What I think is going on is that probably language was entertainment long before it was meaning. It’s a kind of tuneless singing.”

“Sometime in the last 50,000 years, before 12,000 years ago, a kind of paradise came into existence, a situation in which men and women, parents and children, people and animals, human institutions and the land, all were in dynamic balance. And not in any primitive sense at all. Language was fully developed. Poetry may have been at its climax. Dance, magic, poetics, altruism, philosophy, there’s no reason to think that these things were not practiced as adroitly as we practice them today. And it was under the boundary-dissolving influence of psilocybin.”

“All the accoutrements that distinguish us from animal existence were put in place when we had a different kind of mind than we have now. We didn’t have a mind that favored role specialization, and male dominance, and anxiety over female sexual activity related to feelings of male ownership. That all came later.”

“What history is, essentially, is a careening, out-of-control effort to find our way back to this state of primordial balance.”

“We were essentially torn from the Gaian womb, thrust into the birth canal of history, and expelled sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire into the cold hard world of modern science, existentialism and all the rest of it.”

“All of them, if you generalized, what these substances do is they dissolve boundaries. They dissolve boundaries. … Now, the reason this provokes a lot of social anxiety is because all societies are about the maintenance of boundaries.”

“The Germans take quite a knock for the holocaust, but the Catholic church manages to push more people into death, disease, and degradation every year than the holocaust managed in its entire show. And it’s thought rather crass to even mention the fact. It seems to me that as long as these Catholic bishops can show their face in public that we are in complicity with mass murder.”

“We need a pharmacological intervention on anti-social behavior or we are not going to get hold of our dilemma.”

“There has been no progress in 60,000 years in reducing the psychedelic experience to a known quantity. It is as terrifying, as awesome, as ecstatic, as irreducible to us as it was to them.”

“I believe that what makes the psychedelic experience so central is that it is a connection into a larger modality of organization on the planet, which is a fancy way of saying it connects you up to the mind of Nature Herself.”

“I think ideology is toxic, all ideology. It’s not that there are good ones and bad ones. All ideology is toxic, because ideology is a kind of insult to the gift of human free thinking.”

“The only difference between a drug and a computer is that one is slightly too large to swallow. … And our best people are working on that problem, even as we speak.”

“I do not think that the government, under the guise of some phony, alarmist, pseudo-scientific rhetoric, should attempt to control the evolution of consciousness. After all, if these things truly are consciousness-expanding, it doesn’t take too much intelligence to realize that it is the absence of consciousness that is causing our flirtation with extinction and planetary disaster.”

“We don’t want this to end in a toxified garbage pit ruled by Nazis, which is the way we may well be headed.”

“It’s inconceivable that Western industrial capitalism could run on another five hundred or a thousand years. It will not continue as it has. It will deteriorate under the pressure of resource scarcity. And what few democratic values we have obtained, what little space for reasoned discourse has been created, will be the first to be swept away. So it’s very, very important that people take back their minds, and that people analyze our dilemma in the context of the entire human story from the descent onto the grassland to our potential destiny as citizens of the galaxy and the universe. We are at a critical turning point.”

“So what needs to be done is to spread the idea that anxiety is inappropriate. It’s sort of like we who are psychedelic have to function as sitters for society, because society is going to thrash, and resist, and think it’s dying, and be deluded, and regurgitate unconscious material, and so forth and so on. And the role then, I think, for psychedelic people is to try and spread calm.”


PCs – Right click, select option
Macs – Ctrl-Click, select option

Posted in Consciousness, Culture, Evolution, Language, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Religion, Terence McKenna and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. in response to the question about the final quote from the lecture, Terrence is responding to a question about UFO sightings, and anomalies in the sky — based on the partial quote which has been retrieved (above) it seems to me that his response may have gone in the following direction:

    “Conciousness is a kind of omnidirectional threat detection response and assesment system, put in place by paranoid and very small monkeys, in a grassland environment, frequented by very large hunting
    cats. So the purpose of conciousness is to inform you when something horrible and catastrophic is about to happen in the hope that you can then do something about it.”
    He may have gone on to connect this idea to his earlier comment on “future leakage into our present consciousness through various anomalies” presumably answering the young woman’s question with the suggestion that these “sightings” are our own interpretation of such leakage into our consciousness of future possibilities. In other words, that our consciousness can tap into future possibilities that manifest in the form of anomalies which we interpret as UFOs or sightings of the Virgin Mary, etc.

  2. Amazing how fast you can find things. I found something doing a quick search on the beginning of his final line that sounds similar.

    Conciousness is a kind of omnidirectional threat detection and assesment system, put in place by paranoid and very small monkeys, in a grassland environment, frequented by very large hunting cats. So the purpose of conciousness is to inform you when something horrible and catastrophic is about to happen in the hope that you can then do something about it.

    Terence McKenna

    I will assume he would have then applied this on a grander scale as our sensing the catastrophic destruction of our planet and something about novelty crashing in 2012. He seemed to take this approach the entire speech by stating micro models etc and then expressing/explaining them on a macro level and implications thereof.

  3. I was just wondering if an end to this talk, when Terence is laying out his model, has been found. Profoundly interesting and so many nuggets to look up and research now ideed, this would be my ultimate pop-the Terence-Mckenna-cherry talk to give someone unfamiliar with him or his ideas. Only problem is that that final climax or pinnacle of his final thought on the “trancedental object at the end of time” is missing. I can surmize where he was going, but I would really love to hear the rest. Keep us posted.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *