Reissued because of the current interest in Ecstasy, this is McKenna's extraordinary quest to discover the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He wonders why we are so fascinated by altered states of consciousness, do they reveal something about our origins as human beings and our place in nature?
A journey is some of the Earth's most endangered people in the remote Upper Amazon. . . . a look at the rituals of the Bwiti cults of Gabon and Zaire. . . . . a field watch on the easting habits of 'stoned' apes and chimpanzees - these adventures are all a part of ethnobotanis t Terence McKenna's extraordinary quest to discover the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He wonders why, as a species, we are so fascinated by altered states of consciousness. Can you reveal something about our origins as human beings and our place in nature? As an odyssey of mind, body and spirit, Food of the Gods is one of the most fascinating and suprising histories of consciousness ever written And as a daring work of scholarship and exploration, it offers an inspiring vision for individual fulfilment and a humane basis for our interaction which each other and with the natural world. 'Brilliant, provocative, opinionated, poetic and inspiring. . . . . Essenti al reading for anyone who ever wondered why people take drugs. Rupert Sheldrake.
McKenna, an explorer who has travelled the world to live and work with shamans from many cultures, has many radical views on the relationship between humanity and psychoactive substances. If, he argues, we accept that drugs will be an increasing part of global culture, we need to reappraise the patterns of drug-related experience throughout the centuries in order to understand what is happening to our society. Drawing on years of research, McKenna argues for a possible revival of what he calls the archaic attitude towards community, recovering a former relationship with nature in order to promote a more humane future. His views are controversial but his arguments are fascinating, ranging far and wide through humankind's cultural history to demonstrate what we have lost and what we might hope to gain. (Kirkus UK)
The ethnobotanist co-author of Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide (not reviewed) puts forth the theory that magic mushrooms are the original "tree of knowledge" and that the general lack of psychedelic exploration is leading Western society toward eventual collapse or destruction - controversial statements, to say the least, though the argument's details often prove fascinating. In the beginning, McKenna tells us, there were protohumans with small brains and plenty of genetic competition, and what eventually separated the men from the apes was an enthusiasm for the hallucinogenic mushrooms that grew on the feces of local cattle. Claiming that psilocybin in the hominid diet would have enhanced eyesight, sexual enjoyment, and language ability and would have thereby placed the mushroom-eaters in the front lines of genetic evolution - eventually leading to hallucinogen-ingesting shamanistic societies, the ancient Minoan culture, and some Amazonian tribes today - McKenna also asserts that the same drugs are now outlawed in the US because of their corrosive effect on our male-dominated, antispiritual society. Unconsciously craving the vehicles by which our ancestors expanded their imaginations and found meaning in their lives, he says, we feast on feeble substitutes: coffee, sugar, and chocolate, which reinforce competition and aggressiveness; tobacco, which destroys our bodies; alcohol, whose abuse leads to male violence and female degradation; TV, which deadens our senses; and the synthetics - heroin, cocaine and their variations - which leave us victimized by our own addiction. On the other hand, argues McKenna, magic mushrooms, used in a spiritually enlightened, ritual manner, can open the door to greater consciousness and further the course of human evolution - legalization of all drugs therefore is, he says, an urgent necessity. Provocative words - often captivating, but not often convincing. (Kirkus Reviews)
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