McKenna is very high on drugs. He suspects that they have been put here by extraterrestrials, and even that the sacred mushrooms may be intelligences themselves. He is convinced that a partnership between hallucinogenic plants and mankind will shape our future:
“In 1975 we underwent something like a second Neolithic revolution…[through] the invention of home fungus civilization. Suddenly, twenty or thirty species of psilocybin containing mushrooms, which were previously rarely-met forest endemics…have become ubiquitous. Stropharia cubenis…was, before the invention of human cultivation, a rare tropical mushroom. Now it grows from Nome to Tierra del Fuego in every attic, basement and garage…. My brother and I wrote the book Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Growers’ Guide in 1975. It sold [more than] 100,000 copies…. Bob Harris wrote a book called Growing Wild Mushrooms. Jonathan Ott wrote a book. Spore companies sprang up…it’s very hard to imagine how many people are doing this….
“I think that a true symbiosis is happening between humans and hallucinogenic plants. LSD was a thing of the laboratory. Psilocybin is a creature of the forests and fields. When man propagates it, when we spread it, when it intoxicates us, there is a reciprocal relationship and transfer of energy and information…it may be smarter than we are….
“What a long, strange trip it’s been, from the cave paintings at Alta Mira to the doorway of the starship. And now we stand on that threshold, hand in hand with this strange new partner….”
McKenna refers to an “unresolved problem in botany: why there is such a tremendous concentration of plant hallucinogens in the New World” and considers that to be the reason why “hallucinogenic shamanism is so highly developed” in North, Central, and South America. Noting that “millions of people were touched by LSD,” he adds, surprisingly, “I don’t think that mass drug-taking is a good idea.” He then makes an interesting suggestion:
“But I think that we must have a deputized minority—a shamanic professional class…whose job is to…perform for our culture some of the cultural functions that shamans performed in preliterate cultures.”
After having told the world how to grow the sacred mushroom and being so enthusiastic that “everyone” is getting into it, how does he propose that only a “deputized minority—a shamanic professional class” be the ones through whom the new revelations will officially come? In fact, one need not take hallucinogens to become a shaman—many shamans do not. All one needs to do is to activate the imagination through certain techniques, the most powerful of which is visualization. Far more people in the world and also in the church have bought into this “harmless” method than into drugs.
Jean Houston reminds us, “Throughout history human beings have invented or discovered many ways to alter consciousness as a gateway to subjective realities, heightened sensitivity, and aesthetic, creative, and religious apperceptions. Ritual drumming, dancing, chanting, fasting, ingesting mind-altering plant substances, yogas, and meditative states—such means have helped to suspend the structural givens and cultural expectations of a certain reality construct—the conditioned mindscape—so that alternative realities and solutions can be perceived.”