Terence McKenna by Robert Venosa

(Excerpt from Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna)

From the Grasslands to the Starship

Human history has been a fifteen-thousand-year dash from the equilibrium of the African cradle to the twentieth-century apotheosis of delusion, devaluation, and mass death. Now we stand of the brink of star flight, virtual reality technologies, and a revivified shamanism that heralds the abandonment of the monkey body and tribal group that has always been our context. The age of imagination is dawning. The shamanic plants and the worlds that they reveal are the worlds from which we imagine that we came long ago, worlds of light and power and beauty that in some form or another lie behind the eschatological visions of all of the world’s great religions. We can claim this prodigal legacy only as quickly as we can remake our language and ourselves.

Remaking our language means rejecting the image of ourselves inherited from dominator culture—that of a creature guilty of sin and hence deserving of exclusion from paradise. Paradise is our birthright and can be claimed by any one of us. Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored. Shamanism has always known this, and shamanism has always, in its most authentic expressions, taught that the path required allies. These allies are the hallucinogenic plants and the mysterious teaching entities, luminous and transcendental, that reside in that nearby dimension of ecstatic beauty and understanding that we have denied until it is now nearly too late.

We Await Ourselves within the Vision

We can now move toward a new vision of ourselves and our role in nature. We are the omni-adaptable species, we are the thinkers, the makers, and the solvers of problems. These great gifts that are ours alone and which come out of the evolutionary matrix of the planet are not for us—our convenience, our satisfaction, our greater glory. They are for life; they are the special qualities that we can contribute to the great community of organic being, if we are to become the care giver, the gardener, and the mother of our mother, which is the living earth.

Here there is great mystery. In the middle of the slow-moving desert of unreflecting nature we come upon ourselves and perhaps see ourselves for the first time. We are colorful, cantankerous, and alive with hopes and dreams that, so far as we know, are unique in the universe. We have been too long asleep and shackled by the power we have ceded to the least noble parts of ourselves and the least noble among us. It is time that we stood up and faced the fact that we must and can change our minds.

The long night of human history is drawing at last to its conclusion. Now the air is hushed and the east is streaked with the rosy blush of dawn. Yet in the world we have always known evening grows deeper and the shadows lengthen toward a night that will know no end. One way or another the story of the foolish monkey is nearly forever over. Our destiny is to turn without regret from what has been, to face ourselves, our parents, lovers, and children, to gather our tool kits, our animals, and the old, old dreams, so that we may move out across the visionary landscape of ever-deeper understanding. Hopefully there, where we have always been most comfortable, most ourselves, we will find glory and triumph in the search for meaning in the endless life of the imagination, at play at last in the fields of an Eden refound.


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