Terence McKenna is an icon within the psychedelic community due to his disruptive ways of thinking and all his contributions to topics ranging from plants to cyberculture.

His most famous book, Food of the Gods, introduces his theory that psychoactive plants were the primary catalyst of human consciousness. He also analyzes a historical account of humanity’s relationship to psychedelics and other substances such as sugar, caffeine, and tobacco. Terence argues that we have moved from a partnership society to a dominator society, which is fed by numbing substances such as alcohol and the effect of television.


For him, this is the hidden issue that makes governments unwilling to consider legalization: the unmanaged shift of consciousness that legal and available drugs, including plant psychedelics, would bring is extremely threatening to a dominator, ego-oriented culture. (taken from here)

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third-story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

– Terence McKenna 


McKenna urges his readers to reconnect with nature, something we have become very separate from. Using certain psychedelics may be the answer to establishing a bond with the natural world.


The book is split into four parts:

  • Paradise – How we used to live in balance with nature and how psychedelics co-evolved with us
  • Paradise Lost – How the balance got lost and ‘dominator culture’ took over
  • Hell – Critique of current-day society and (synthetic) drugs
  • Paradise Regained? – Ideas about ‘archaic revival,’ getting back to nature (taken from here)


McKenna has a straightforward and confident way of sharing these ideas, which is why I believe he has gained popularity. His points are very valid and interesting but must also sometimes be taken with a little lee way. Psychedelics are only for some, and it is pretty unrealistic that they will be the answer to all of society’s problems. However, he is right that nature holds a vast amount of data from which we should draw.