Psychedelic Apocalypse – Terence McKenna’s Re:Evolution revisited

[Note : This is transcribed verbatim from The Shamen’s “Boss Drum” album (1994), and does not necessarily reflect my actual beliefs. However, it contains significant alternative prophetic content and is well worth noting. Emphases mine.]

Terence McKenna by Robert Venosa ( the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed. Human history represents such a radical break with the natural systems of biological organization that preceded it, that it must be the response to a kind of attractor, or dwell point that lies ahead in the temporal dimension. Persistently, western religions have integrated into their theologies the notion of a kind of end of the world, and I think that a lot of psychedelic experimentation sort of confirms this intuition, I mean, it isn’t going to happen according to any of the scenarios of orthodox religion,

but the basic intuition, that the universe seeks closure in a kind of omega point of transcendence, is confirmed, it’s almost as though this object in hyperspace, glittering in hyperspace, throws off reflections of itself, which actually ricochet into the past, illuminating this mystic, inspiring that saint or visionary,

and that out of these fragmentary glimpses of eternity we can build a kind of map, of not only the past of the universe, and the evolutionary progression into novelty, but a kind of map of the future, this is what shamanism is always been about, a shaman is someone who has been to the end, it’s someone who knows how the world really works,

and knowing how the world really works means to have risen outside, above, beyond the dimensions of ordinary space, time, and [sic] causality, and actually seen the wiring under the board, stepped outside the confines of learned culture and learned and embedded language, into the domain of what Wittgenstein called “the unspeakable”,

the transcendental presence of the other, which can be absanctioned, in various ways, to yield systems of knowledge which can be brought back into ordinary social space for the good of the community, so in the context of ninety percent of human culture, the shaman has been the agent of evolution, because the shaman learns the techniques to go between ordinary reality and the domain of the ideas,

this higher dimensional continuum that is somehow parallel to us, available to us, and yet ordinarily occluded by cultural convention out of fear of the mystery I believe, and what shamans are, are people who have been able to de-condition themselves from the community’s instinctual distrust of the mystery,

and to go into it, to go into this bewildering higher dimension, and gain knowledge, recover the jewel lost at the beginning of time, to save souls, cure, commune with the ancestors and so forth and so on.

Shamanism is not a religion, it’s a set of techniques, and the principal technique is the use of psychedelic plants. What psychedelics do is they dissolve boundaries, and in the presence of dissolved boundaries, one cannot continue to close one’s eyes to the ruination of the earth, the poisoning of the seas, and the consequences of two thousand years of unchallenged dominator culture, based on monotheism, hatred of nature, suppression of the female, and so forth and so on.

So, what shamans have to do is act as exemplars, by … making this cosmic journey to the domain of the Gaian ideas, and then bringing them back in the form of art to the struggle to save the world. The planet has a kind of intelligence, that it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being.

The message that nature sends is, transform your language through a synergy between electronic culture and the psychedelic imagination, a synergy between dance and idea, a synergy between understanding and intuition, and dissolve the boundaries that your culture has sanctioned between you, to become part of this Gaian supermind, I mean I think

it’s fairly profound, it’s fairly apocalyptic. History is ending. I mean, we are to be the generation that witnesses the revelation of the purpose of the cosmos. History is the shock wave of the eschaton. History is the shock wave of eschatology, and what this means for those of us who will live through this transition into hyperspace, is that we will be privileged to see the greatest release of compressed change probably since the birth of the universe.

The twentieth century is the shudder that announces the approaching cataracts of time over which our species and the destiny of this planet is about to be swept.

If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.

The emphasis in house music and rave culture on physiologically compatible rhythms and this sort of thing is really the rediscovery of the art of natural magic with sound, that sound, properly understood, especially percussive sound, can actually change neurological states, and

large groups of people getting together in the presence of this kind of music are creating a telepathic community of bonding that hopefully will be strong enough that it can carry the vision out into the mainstream of society. I think that the youth culture that is emerging in the nineties is an end of the millennium culture that is actually summing up Western civilization and pointing us in an entirely different direction, that

we’re going to arrive in the third millennium, in the middle of an archaic revival, which will mean a revival of these physiologically empowering rhythm signatures, a new art, a new social vision, a new relationship to nature, to feminism, to ego.

All of these things are taking hold, and not a moment too soon.


  1. Don R said

    All I can say is, “Whoa”. This is heavy material (which, by the way, I have seen before in other articles).

  2. Nic Paton said

    Hi Don
    Yes it is heavy, that’s why it’s taken me 13 years to hoist onto my site!

    I find that now I don’t automatically demonise things (such as “New Age” or whatever), and look at them for what they are worth, it has allowed me to see truth anew.

    I think McKenna was a prophetic voice of the shamenistic variety. As I said in the rider I don’t buy him wholesale, but there is enough there for me to consider what he says together with St. John of the Apocalypse.

  3. liquidlight said

    Nic & Don.

    i like the term he coined: Archaic Revival. however i’d widen it’s scope, beyond psychotropic shamanism, to include all those parts of ourselves & the cosmos that are currently ignored or undervalued by consumerist economic and/or religious and/or other ideological fundamentalists.


  4. Nic Paton said

    I’m with you LL. The “archaic”, or premodern, gets back to the fact that G-d has ordained that we know Him-Her VIA the cosmos, not outside of it: Incarnation is and has always been, the Missio Dei.

    I am excited to view McKennas “rant” as largely foretelling what the Bible foretells. He is, I note, not really a re-incarnationalist as one might expect, but an apocalyptic – that’s quite strange, I’d say. Wouldn’t you expect him to jump wholesale into eastern eschatology?

    This “omega point” thinking is prevalent in many of The Shamens songs. I often wonder about Colin Angus (their main songwriter).

    As to the psychotropic elements, well the jury is out, what I am NOT going to do is jump on the thing with a blanket demonising of altered states. I’m on the road to discovering what Christain Shamenism might entail. There is LOTs of it in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Baptist and many other places in the Sacred Writings. May we not domesticate them.

  5. timvictor said


    I recently chatted to Gavin Marshall – also an ex Vineyard person – who went on a weekend with a shaman. He’s headed this way next week and will share his experiences with us. There’s a weekend away early next year which I’m keen to get us booked on.

    Psychadelics… Yay!

  6. timvictor said


    I think we should explore the notion of shamanism further and think of it in relation to community and spiritual practice. The use of drugs presents a problem as medical and psychological conditions often get helped along by them but for the most part shamanism has a lot to offer.

  7. Don R said

    Nic- Have you read any of Ram Dass’s work. He is a most remarkable man; who incidently is in very poor health as the result of a stroke. I would recommend him to you, given your last post.

  8. Dan Molloy said

    What’s interesting is that “history is the shockwave of escatology” is also quoted at the end of a Messiah song “Thunderdome”.

    4:44m into it –

  9. […] stepped outside the confines of learned culture and embedded language, into the presence of what Wittgenstein called “the […]

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