Podcast 226 – McKenna: “Hermeticism and Alchemy” Part 4


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“Newton himself was a man with a foot in two worlds. He was a thorough-going occultist. His alchemical experiments and notebooks were voluminous. And yet he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society.”

“History itself is a kind of alchemical process. … History is the catalyst of nature.”

“If we could raise to consciousness our alchemical heritage, and our heritage in the shamanism of the archaic, then we could actually see that the purpose of technology is to liberate, not to enslave, and somehow we’ve lost the thread.”

“You know, Tim Leary used to say, ‘When in doubt, double the dose.’ “

“Capitalism, I can’t say this enough, is NOT in our interest.”

“The Earth is perfectly capable of raising outrageous hell without us triggering a nuclear war.”

“My faith is that we’re just slow to get rolling, and that once the battle is joined, once every person on Earth realizes that we’re in a battle for planetary survival, then people will get with the program, it’s just that things aren’t bad enough yet.”

“We’re lead by jackasses. We [the psychedelic community] don’t bother with our political processes.”

“What we have to do is stop looking for leadership from the top, because the least among us makes their way into those positions of power. I mean, you can see that now [1992], those guys are not fit to throw guts down to a bear … ANY OF THEM!”

“What we have to do is knock off this fantasy of being citizens inside a democratic state. I mean, what we are are the propagandized masses inside a Fascist dictatorship.”

“Know your enemy and they probably will not be your enemy.”

“I think that the Third Reich was a Sunday school picnic compared to the population policies of the Roman Catholic Church. … In a civilized political environment those people would be placed under immediate arrest.”

“The way to gain power is to reclaim a command of history.”

“And so it’s up to the creativity of ordinary people, and the strongest weapon to support and augment the creativity of ordinary people is the psychedelic experience, because it allows you to put information together in new and exciting ways. And this is to be then the basis of a new political order. It has to be.”

“The model of human nature which this society has deified makes it a pathological act, a sin, and a crime to alter your own consciousness. This doesn’t make any sense. We are at war with ourselves, and we’re losing.”

“It’s all about personal empowerment, and personal empowerment means deconditioning yourself from the values and the programs of the society and putting your own values and programs in place.”


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Posted in Alchemy, Consciousness, Hermeticism, Religion, Science & Technology, Terence McKenna (mp3) and tagged , , , , , .


  1. In talking about time travel, when Terence said “You’re grandchildren may live in a world that existed before you were born”, maybe he meant if those grandchildren literally traveled far enough back in time from their point in the future, the journey back could place them somewhere preceding the point we occupy – in the world before we were born.

  2. This may or may not be directly relevant to Terence’s frequently stated observation that “reality is created by language” (made in this podcast and others) , but is at least interesting and thereby worth mentioning, I thought.

    If I’m not mistaken, I recall in reading talk-show host Dick Cavett ‘s autobiography in the 70’s, he conveyed having had his first cannabis high with Janis Joplin at which time he saw the conversation being exchanged between the two of them hanging in the air as written words. And just a few days ago, I spoke to someone who told me he’d recently had his first mushroom experience during which he could see alphabetical letters emanating from the flames of a campfire in front of him.

    If this isn’t directly related to the significance of what Terence was alluding to, it at least evidences how pervasively ever present and influential language and it’s counterpart the written word can be in our lives and perceptions once instilled. And how some experiences during an alteration of consciousness can magnify our awareness of this influence.

  3. P.S. Nevermind this scenario, what about the scenario where humanity moves out of the animal body into a more resilient low-energy nano-being!

    I’ve entertained that recently while pondering the harsh realities of space travel… whenever there’s radiation in your path, your DNA breaks! Shielding is impractical, so the answer is unmanned …but manned spacetravel! A form of intelligence that is more adapted to space.

    The human body has a whole roster of outrageously expensive demands, from air, water and varied diet to cutting your toenails every once in a while. Moving into a less picky “vessel” would be very attractive but for the fact that our very mind and consciousness is shaped by the exact characteristics of our physical bodies (ie. we breathe air, we have two eyes up front that respond to this range of EM radiation, two ears that hear in this range, etc). What would we transport into the outer-space-proof vessel if we were to engineer a vessel that uses ubiquitous energy as food, has a small footprint and is practically immortal? What would we do for sensors, to perceive the environment? Would we have the same delimitations and individuality? Where would one being end and the other begin, where would they stop being and feeling “human”?

    I see this transhuman trend as inevitable somewhere in the future. A hypothetical future where we do NOT blow our shot entirely and go back to primitivism or go completely extinct. Like it seems we’re hard at work doing now. I hope that people may sometime have the chance to live in the imagination, explore inner and outer space and break more boundries!

  4. “Your grandchildren may live in a world that existed before you were born” – Perhaps Terence was refering metaphorically to starting off with a blank slate. A generation of post-catastrophe grandchildren that would not inherit our current state of development, as it would be unknowable to them – wiped out by the asteroid.

    I’m not sure though, just a hypothesis.

  5. Another great series from Terence… though he was perhaps not at his continuously stellar best, it WAS an all-day workshop with long Q&A. Yet plenty of great reinforcement and further details of his general ideas.

    I heard a great lesson in the fourth podcast in this series that he does not focus on much… please see http://markarend.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/those-who-cannot-learn-from-history/.

    Thanks Lorenzo for your tireless work stimulating the gnosis!

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