Podcast 344 – “A Global Cultural Crisis”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“I’m proposing on one level that hallucinogens be thought of as almost as social pheromones that regulate the rate at which language develops, and therefore regulate human culture generally.”

“Where psychedelics comes together with that is that it’s going to require a transformation of human language and understanding to stop the momentum of the historical process, to halt nuclear proliferation, germ warfare, infantile 19th century politics, all these things. It cannot be accomplished through a frontal assault upon it by political means.”

“Transformation of language through psychedelic drugs is a central factor of the evolution of the social matrix of the rest of the century.” (quote from 1983)

“Tribalism is a social form which can exist at any level of technology. It’s a complete illusion to associate it with low levels of technology. It is probably, in fact, a form of social organization second only to the family in its ability to endure.”

“I think there is a global commonality of understanding coming into being. And it is not necessarily fostered by institutions.”

“If I had to pick an ontological vision that was compatible with what I think these drugs are about, and with what I think is trying to happen, I would pick Taoism.”

“So it’s [shamanism] a kind of a profession. It’s almost like clergy. It’s to be deputized by the society as an ecstatic for the purpose of introducing back into society the material that comes from the mystical voyage for purposes of cultural renewal.”

“The history of man that you don’t know is what your unconscious is made out of.”


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Books mentioned in this podcast

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present
By Howard Zinn

Burr: A Novel
By Gore Vidal

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated
By Gore Vidal

Posted in Ayahuasca, Books, Consciousness, Culture, Language, Psychedelics, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Hey Lorenzo!
    I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for your brilliant show. I have almost gone through all of them. Starting with Mckenna (as heard about on Joe Rogan’s show) and then clicking on Fisher and The trialouges with Rupert and Ralph.
    I always thought I was a weirdo when it came to conversing with people about the things I find interesting, only to see their faces as of horror staring back at me with nothing to say, or to make fun (the worst is when it is my own family).
    I knew I wasn’t crazy not wanting to take part in this system, churning people out, grinding them to bits, leaving them with nothing in the end, except heart attacks and debt. And like you, I was lined up with them, even though I felt an ache in my heart.

    Anyways, don’t want to bore you. Just saying thanks, your podcasts and Joe’s and Duncan Trussell’s get me through, week after week, my job. I now have a mission and a destination, Peru, and burning man. Two places that only a couple years ago, weren’t even on my map. Propbobly won’t get to make a journey to either for some time becuase of fundage, but one day!
    Or it is back to the trap of time and mind.

  2. This is the best McKenna podcast in a long while. I think the decision to excise material relating to the “timewave theory” is a wise one. It was always the Bard’s flakiest idea, although many fascinating insights emerged from its depths years later (as the older McKenna struggled with his younger beliefs). But it’s largely a finished topic, and it’s critically important to highlight the diversity of the man’s ideas.

    Personally, I prefer the older, ’90s Terence McKenna to the younger, ’80s incarnation. I’m aware this puts me in the minority, and since I came from cranky, grungy Generation X (instead of the ’60s cosmic hippies), it’s perfectly understandable. The Bard’s growing skepticism and doubt, his cultural criticisms, his gleeful “wink-wink, am I serious or joking” playfulness resonate with me, far more than spacey tales of aliens and iChing and Mayan calendars (sigh).

    I put McKenna in the same vein as science-fiction or satire, people like Bill Hicks or Philip K Dick, with a helping of Marshall MacLuhan and James Joyce and Plato’s Republic. Even when he’s wrong or just baffling, he’s entertaining, and forces you to think. This show is one of the better examples.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my own unique point-of-view, and give my thanks to this excellent podcast. The hard work is much appreciated, and hopefully will inspire people, young and old, into the future. Much thanks.

  3. EDIT:

    I really shouldn’t have said “disproven”. What I meant is that it is just no longer as relevant as it once was. It is also EXTREMELY difficult to understand. For anyone who wants more info on it there is a good chunk of the “tree of knowledge” lecture dedicated to it where he goes into a great deal of detail. It is available here:

  4. I have to 100% agree with you Lorenzo on your intro on this one. I am totally done hearing about the whole timewave theory. I think that your editing is just fine with me. What people have to remember is that a lot of the time Terence was telling the same information to different people in his lectures. I do not need to hear a disproven theory about 2012 anymore, it was interesting at first but now it’s already been talked about enough.

    Terence Mckenna is a true pioneer. It is a shame I was too young (and for most of his career not alive) to know about psychedelics when he was lecturing, but at least there are great sources like this blog to keep the legacy running strong. You’re doing a great thing with these blogs. Keep it up! If I wasn’t a broke ass hippie I would send some bread your way to help out… I will when I can.

  5. the Mayans never said the world was going to end, they said a new age would begin, like Niles said, the Mayans were correct. I recently heard in one of the Robert Anton Wilson podcasts, about his “Jumping Jesus” theory. Jesus being his designation of 1 unit of technological growth. By his theory, the rate at which technology is advancing now, it would be infinitely novel. I’m going to go back and listen to that one again, but that would make Terence right in a certain light. Just goes to show you, its all in how you look at it. Love yall

  6. The old epoch did end on or about the specified date.
    Terence and the Mayans were correct.


  7. “The end of history is appointed by western religion”. We
    are moving toward “the psychedelic object at the end of time”.
    Did anyone seriously think that what Terence was talking about
    was the destruction of all life on the planet,or the
    planet itself?? Of course if the Russian meteor had been a few
    times larger it might have come to that. But clearly, I think,
    what he was noting was the exponential rise of technology that
    is completely novel and can only be seen as a unique new phase
    of human existence.
    When he first developed the time wave he arrived at a date a
    few weeks before 12/21/12. When made aware of the Mayan calendar for the change of cycles (NOT the end of the world)
    he said basically, close enough and went with it. And you know what, a very good case can be made that from hundreds
    of years in the past the Mayans nailed it to the day! the news virtually every day of the year reflected the new human
    state (age) we have entered (achieved). One of the first
    series of unique events was the Arab spring, something that
    could only occur because people are electronically linked,
    locally, nationally and globally. Human consciousness is now
    an integrated, unified global phenomenon. There was a rare
    transit of Venus in the fall(wonder if the Mayans foresaw that?). Then as the date grew near a deranged kid stole his
    mother’s automatic weapons and killed her, dozens on first-
    graders and himself prompting an impassioned plea for gun
    control. The day before the date the NRA head announced that
    on 12/21/12 he would give substantial new changes to his
    positions. All right,if he changes position it really is a
    new age! Of course he didn’t (arm the schools!) but he said
    it on 21st and has relegated himself to lunatic fringe. The
    handwriting is on the wall, this will change. So that was the year leading up the date. In this the following year the
    effects are dramatic. The speed of light is no longer the fastest speed. We have produce meta-materials with negative
    refractive index through which light passes at “almost infinite” velocity. Like wise we produced groups of atoms
    whose temperature is effectively below absolute zero. We are
    tracking a comet near sunset horizon. In the fall there will
    be another that may be as bright as the full moon.
    The contemporary world is so profoundly different than what
    has gone before, can anyone seriously suggest that we are not in a new age of man?


  8. I just wanted to say, I still think there is something there with the time wave. It would be curious to see the time wave lined up to 2045 as the end point. I only suggest 2045 because that nut Kurzweil came to his prediction based on the exponential growth of technology. Or better yet, Pesce spoke of other exponential factors in time, three if I remember correctly. One of which was technology as well. Maybe you could take the intersecting point of all of those and line up the timewave to the that point! It be fun to speculate at the very least. Anyway, I totally this podcast, you are awesome Lorenzo. Keep on keepin on, my only hope is to meet some “others” that are half as open minded as you and the people I hear speaking on your podcasts.

  9. Just from the program notes and without having even heard it, this seems to be quite synchronistic. Thank you so much again, Lorenzo!

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