In addition to pioneering exploration of various psychedelics and their effects — which he has reported back on in eloquent detail — Terence Mckenna was in many ways a philosopher. His ability to splice together Western and Eastern philosophies creates insights to rival even the most world-renowned psychologists and thinkers. He delves into consciousness by way of anthropology, literature, history, ecology, chemistry and shamanism, and the results are a profound guidebook to navigate the human psyche. It is perhaps for this reason that years after his passing in mid-1999, McKenna’s ideas resonate across the internet with people of every generation and background.
One example of the famed psychonaut’s ongoing legacy is an hour and 24 minute YouTube audio recording titled Archaic Revival, in the beginning of which McKenna’s unmistakable voice discusses the “dominator society” in which we live. He compares the ego to a “calcareous tumor or a cyst,” explaining via an anthropological discussion that psychedelics can unravel the long held assumptions that form the basis for the kind of society that prioritizes competition and personal gain.
“[The ego] begins growing in the personality in the absence of hallucinogenic substances,” he says. “Because in the absence of hallucinogenic substances, assumptions get rolling and there’s no stopping these assumptions because they’re never held up to a reasonable standard. They’re just simply taken for granted. And the whole style of dominator’s society is a taking for granted. So many people over the past 25 years have said it’s a fine thing to take psychedelic plants. It makes you copulate in the street and love your neighbor. And I agree with all of that but… I want to go further and create a compelling reason why this is true.”
He goes on to discuss a “kind of symbiosis” in early human history — on the plains of Africa 12 to 20 thousand years ago — between human beings and psychedelic mushrooms. He argues that we participated in a religio-biological dynamism, which has not existed since in history.
“History is in fact the quenching and the withdrawal of this relationship of symbiosis to the rest of nature,” he says.
He explains that in our personal lives we can create archaic revival by exploring plants and shamanism at the individual level. He explains that an entire aspect of reality has been “culturally blocked from our awareness because we are embedded so deeply in the dominator style of language that we cannot even cognitize this other style of reality unless we have recourse to some boundary dissolving, neurophysiological tool of some sort.”
Mckenna says this is the psychedelic experience, which can come, he says, via psychedelic substances like plants, or in other ways — like near death experiences.
Play the full audio below: