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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, not to be taken fanatically
If anything, McKenna denies such a concept as intangible as enlightment-that was Leary's ego-trip. He's drawing attention to the fact that we are an evolving species that has, up till now at least, made some very selfish and destructive decisions. He claims that psilocybin is a mutagen proven to be capable of aiding in our collective evolution toward balance with each...
Published on Dec 19 2002

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Ethnogen Info, Bad History
I'm a bit flabbergasted by all the accolades here about McKenna's "solid research." Well, partially flabbergasted. His research into the properties of ethnogens is unrivaled. But his research into history is awful. For instance, he simply takes for granted such things as the Great Mother Goddess theory, without apparently considering that this was never accepted...
Published on July 7 2003 by D. Gray


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, not to be taken fanatically, Dec 19 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
If anything, McKenna denies such a concept as intangible as enlightment-that was Leary's ego-trip. He's drawing attention to the fact that we are an evolving species that has, up till now at least, made some very selfish and destructive decisions. He claims that psilocybin is a mutagen proven to be capable of aiding in our collective evolution toward balance with each other and with nature. Anyone who claims that psilocybin is not a mutagen that puts man in contact with the vegetable-mind-the "mama matrix most mysterious" -and catalyses the realization that we are a part of magnificant nature, not something seperate from or stuggling against it, is to put it nicely, completely misinformed. As is anyone who claims that abuse of sugar, coffee, tobacco, chocalate, automobiles & television are not addictions that push us further from nature & away from balance, understanding and integration. People who view their "sober," selfish, game-playing, costume-wearing, coffee-drinking existences as productive and meaningful have a little waking up to do.
McKenna is far from braindead. Read the book and you may be impressed, as I was, with his daring conjecture, botanical, historical & anthropological knowledge, prose and literary savoir-faire in discussing a topic which society has branded evil, immoral, degenerative or, at the very least, highly controversial. Remember when you claim that his radical viewpoint lacks scientific credulity that our lawmakers are responsible for fanatically denying all access to the subject-matter by legitimate researchers, forcing the study and the knowledge underground.
People acting from a basis of profound paranoia are not helpful guides and their insights should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunatly, to watch the news or to listen to our politicians speak, this paranoia about things mysterious, supressed or unexplored seems to be omnipresent in our society, which is thoroughly based upon male-ego/dominator values-talk about building your house on the sand!
This world is incredibly screwed up. To dream of progress and productivity in a time when we can see that all that these false idols have led us to is disorder and eminent doom is a dangerous delusion. The goal is to keep this planet intact for ourselves, for each other, for our children and for our children's children. Following Christ or whichever pathological egotist claims to be His representative has not been enough, so far, to awaken people to the fact that we are riding a runaway train in which the conductor has hidden from himself the emergency brake. We are living in a time when corporate bigshots and good-ole-boy politicians are seen as the good guys, while spiritual explorers, environmentalists and even Nature herself are perceived by docile masses of egotists, each living in the darkest of personal ignorance, to be pawns of the Devil.
We must search for a viable catalyst of selfless thought. To my mind, religion seems only to reinforce selfishness and inequality. Mushrooms, while less than a panacea, are definately a transcendental doorway beyond the restrictions that one's ego asserts over one's consciousness. About this subject, McKenna was far more qualified to speak than am I. If his claim was that mushrooms equal instant enlightenment, then I would be the first to attack his premise. Read the book and take from it what you like & try not to get hysterical or defensive. Paranoia, automatic nay-say and denial will get us no-place. This is just a theory, a stimulating one at that, and it is not inteded to be viewed as dogma or doctrine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics miss the point, Dec 2 2002
By 
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
Food of the Gods explores mankind's connection with the Earth as an organism. The author's speculations on our long lost mutualist relationship with plants has deep implications in science and offers sound insight into modern conditions of human iniquity.

To give you an idea, McKenna postulates that:
- The loss of the feminine in today's 'dominator' cultures
has been further catalyzed by our abuse of plants, drugs,
and nature as a whole
- The psychedelic experience, with its ego dissolving effects
represents an important component of the symbiosis of man
on Earth
- The striking similarities in the chemical structures of
neurotransmitters in the brain and indole compounds in
hallucinogenic plants are no coincidence
Despite the exhaustively researched and largely scholarly presentation of this work, unfounded criticism ensues when the subject matter stands as evidence in the indictment of many commonly held belief systems. However, most often the tone of McKenna's opponents caries the confident smirk of one safely distanced from his fierce intelligence, by their lack of experience with psychedelics.
Terrence McKenna didn't write for the amusement of those unfamiliar with the psychedelic experience. It was well within his mental capacity and scholarly abilities to legitimize his work for an audience of intellectual indifference. I wont say it's easier, but it certainly displays less integrity and truth of cause for one to cater to the lowest common denominator when attempting to relate ideas of this scope, even if they are only speculative.
Neither was it that the uninitiated were intentionally ignored and his priceless intellectual contribution was meant to be out of reach from common people, in an extension of Huxley's philosophy which he is often mistaken for representing.
Rather, his weakness seems to be his naivety in assuming that people inexperienced with psychedelics would approach his work with the unbiased mindfulness due of a reader of any great work of cultural and spiritual diagnosis.
The fact is that any intelligent, honest approach to this work will inevitably lead one to an intersection with a reality that cannot be negated.
Those who are experienced with psychedelics are likely to find in this book truths which they will integrate without hesitance - truths with implications profound enough to dissolve many of the illusions that largely pass as fact.
This book is a powerful catalyst of intellectual growth for anyone engaged in the pursuit to understand this world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars human-plant symbiosis, April 6 2004
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
a highly original, powerful work of revolutionary thinking designed to heal the planet and our own minds.
The author was a brilliant man who vouchsafed to us some of the most amusing and enlightening ideas ever transmitted.
This work is full of brainstorming wonder!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Disruptive, Aug. 27 2002
By 
Thomas M. Seay (Palo Alto, California USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
Terence McKenna is a muse, a trickster, he is (or was)
an incarnation of the psychedelic. Now although this book is not devoid of facts, even Terence would (and did) admit that the theory that human consciousness sprang from the use of the hallucinogenic mushrooms is rather speculative. Nonetheless
Terence's strength is not science per se, but getting us to think
and rethink, getting us to break the routine of our normal worldview and look at our lives and life differently....breaking set.Thomas
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5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, Solidly Supported and Well Reasoned, June 11 2003
By 
Adam Huffer (Thousand Oaks, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
It's not necessary to be a fan of illegal narcotics to find this speculative investigation into the origins of human consciousness both provocative and convincing. I might be described as a moderate drinker at worst, and yet found this argument into the origins of human consciousness utterly plausible. However, if you're anything like the editorial writer from Kirkus review, and obviously uneasy with challenges to your established notions and beliefs, you will probably be resistant to the implications of the author's in-depth research and painstakingly well reasoned speculations. Indeed, you should be resistant to all speculation. The thesis always begs the anti-thesis. It is, however, disingenuous to compile a list of the most extraordinary implications of the divergent views presented by an author and then formally dismiss the work merely as "unconvincing." I was not convinced by the work. But I could not honestly state that the argument was unconvincing. What makes this book so extraordinary is its ability to lead you to seemingly improbable and impossible conclusions, while rendering you incapable of denying either its sound logic or a better explanation of the facts, which brilliantly supported the thesis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A valuble conribution to the field of anthropology, June 2 2003
By 
Ross James Browne "Ross" (Atlanta, Georgia United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
_Food of the Gods_ by Terence Mckenna is an excellent addition to anyone's "alternative anthropology" library. New ideas regarding the origins of intellegent life are always very interesting. Mckenna also has some valuble sociological insights regarding the history of drug abuse, and reminds us that sugar, coffee, and chocolate are potent psychoactive substances that are just as addictive and just as unhealthful as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or psilocybin. It is refreshing to see someone try to level the playing field with regards to drug use, and finally admit that almost every adult in the entire western world is highly dependent on a variety of different drugs. It seems that Mckenna is taking a step in the right direction from a civil rights standpoint by lessening the taboos associated with certain drugs that are associated with the counter-culture, while reminding us of the caffeine and sugar addiction epedemic that is going on right under our noses. This book made me realize that drugs which are widely accepted and advocated by civilized society are not that much different from those which are outlawed. Overall, this is a fascinating anthropological and counter-cultural manifesto. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging look at human history and drug use., June 2 2002
By 
"fearnog" (maple heights, ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
If you are looking for a thought provoking book that is a bit left field, but well written, this book is for you. The main premise of the book is that due to climate changes homonids were forced to adapt eating habits to include previously untried foods, such as psychoactive plants and mushrooms, and that this led to an evolutionary jump for the species. McKenna then shows historically how and why certain drugs have become dominant and what this could mean for humanity. McKenna's idea concerning the origin of the human species is an interesting conjecture but the evidence seems too thin to me, but on the other hand his analysis of the effects of drugs on western civilization hits the nail on the head. Alcohol, tobacco, coffee, chocolate, sugar and television (yes, television) are all promoted or are tolerated by society. McKenna shows you why this is and what it could mean for our future. A previous reviewer said that McKenna promotes the annihilation of the mind, which is patently false. I can hardly believe he read the book. Whether you agree or disagree with the theories presented in this book it will make you think and entertain you in the process. The mind is what got humanity to this point in history and it is the key to our collective future. That is what this book represents, being responsible for our own consciousness and the world that we create.
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4.0 out of 5 stars provocative, quick read; a watershed waiting for academics, Dec 5 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
my first mckenna experience: a sheer delight for anyone who's been bored, confused, disheartened, or annoyed by leary's verbose ramblings! mckenna's clear, laconic prose reads much closer to huxley. 'food of the gods' is in 4 sections with subchapters organized succintly around coherent themes, which make skimming and leaping possible - even on the first read - to parts of personal interest.
mckenna sets out to demonstrate, or at least make plausible, the theory that an archaic relationship with psychoactive plants - namely mushrooms - stimulated the evolutionary leap that in 1-2 million years tripled our brain size from that of our then contemporaraneous hominoids. this is more or less an elaboration for mushrooms of carl sagan's proposition for cannabis - that a precultural relationship between hominid and psychoactive plant affected our brain chemistry significantly. mckenna goes on to apply the consequences to culture of this historic theoretical marriage, concluding primarily that a reacknowledgement of a lost link is needed urgently today.
mckenna gives some potent evidence, but it is for the most part scant and open-ended. mckenna is not a scientist. this is where academia at large could enter with data stacks and studies - even to disagree. a wealth of possibilities for disciplines as diverse/related as linguistics, visual/social/cultural anthropology, archaeology, art history, religious studies, biology, neurochemistry, and philosophy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read the review, Jan. 9 2000
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
Read this book if you don't see how plants have effected society, if you think mushrooms are bad. Do not read this book if you want to try mushrooms or if you've read Mckenna's stuff elsewhere. If you have, you've read this stuff already. If you never had mushrooms, you will want to have them. You probably are better served by reading Whitman or Lorca. You are too eager. Read this book with Schultes "Plants of the Gods". The two books will inform each other. This book is a wonderful overview of plant philosophy. Schulte's book has lovely pictures and he will back up Mckenna. Better still, read this book to understand why relegion is empty for so many people, how God truly is in the details, embedded so deep, we must wedge our way into molecules to find it, how we must shake off the painkillers and SEE! the world. God bless anyone who is so in touch with the force of God that he/she doesn't start the process this way but for myself there was no other way in and Terence has illuminated the path just fine. Sure he's a kook. God bless kooks. Mushrooms aren't the way. They aren't even the map. They are the bench we sit on to relax midway and figure out where we will go next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Food of the gods, Aug. 6 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Paperback)
To the person that wrote this.... Who thinks taking psychadelic mushrooms is an easy process... Try it.. We will see how easy you think it is afterward..
A reader from Fort Collins Colo. , November 30, 1998 Revolutionary!!..well, sort of. Mckenna definetly has some thoughts to share. Thoughts awakened in the midst of a psilocybin-induced state of euphoria and terror. I think Hunter S. Thompson said it best--you can't buy enlightenment. You can't pick it in the forest either... The idea that a mushroom (or any other psycedelic) is some kind of extraordinary gateway to another dimension or key to the underlying nature of the universe violates the nature of what we see around us everyday. Its just not that simple, and its apparent that those who buy this book still wishes it were. but I must say in its defense that the stories are fascinating, mystical and nearly-convincing to the uninitiated. its an interesting idea that most of us would like to beleive. But insight comes from struggle.
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