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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge.

McKenna, Terence. (1992).
New York: Bantam.

ISBN: 0-553-07868-2

Description: First edition, 311 pages.



The time has therefore come, in the great natural discourse that is the history of ideas, thoroughly to rethink our fascination with habitual use of psychoactive and physioactive plants. We have to learn from the excesses of the past, especially the 1960s, but we cannot simply advocate "Just say no" any more than we can advocate "Try it, you'll like it." Nor can we support a view that wishes to divide society into users and nonusers. We need a comprehensive approach to these questions that encompasses the deeper evolutionary and historical implications.

The mutation-inducing influence of diet on early humans and the effect of exotic metabolites on the evolution of their neurochemistry and culture is still unstudied territory. ...

These immense changes occurred largely as a result of the synergies between human beings and the various plants with which they interacted and coevolved. An honest appraisal of the impact of plants on the foundations of human institutions would find them to be absolutely primary. ...

The suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life on earth are intimately and causally connected. ...

As a species, we need to acknowledge the depth of our historical dilemma. We will continue to play with half a deck as long as we continue to tolerate cardinals of government and science who presume to dictate where human curiosity can legitimately focus its attention and where it cannot. Such restrictions on the human imagination are demeaning and preposterous. The government not only restricts research on psychedelics that could conceivably yield valuable psychological and medical insights, it presumes to prevent their religious and spiritual use, as well. Religious use of psychedelic plants is a civil rights issue; its restriction is the repression of a legitimate religious sensibility. In fact, it is not a religious sensibility that is being repressed, but the religious sensibility, an experience of religio based on the plant-human relationships that were in place long before the advent of history. (pages xviii-xix)

We will come across this theme of the ego and the dominator culture often in this reexamination of history. In fact, the terror the ego feels in contemplating the dissolution of boundaries between self and world not only lies behind the suppression of altered states of consciousness but, more generally, explains the suppression of the feminine, the foreign and exotic, and transcendental experiences. (page xx)

"You see what is conclusively proven here is that under certain circumstances one is actually better informed concerning the real world if one has taken a drug than if one has not." His [Roland Fisher's] facetious remark stuck with me, first as an academic anecdote, later as an effort on his part to communicate something profound. What would be the consequences for evolutionary theory of admitting that some chemical habits confer adaptive advantage and thereby become deeply scripted in the behavior and even genome of some individuals? (page 25)

The notion we are exploring in this book is that a particular family of active chemical compounds, the indole hallucinogens, played a decisive role in the emergence of our essential humanness, of the human characteristic of self-reflection. (page 32)

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