This miniseries covers an entire lecture delivered by McKenna called “Mushrooms, Evolutions, and the Millennium,” and you can find the full lecture here if you want. I’ve broken it up into chapters so that we can digest it bit by bit, and also so it won’t be too overwhelming. I know all of us have short attention spans.
Why did I choose this lecture? Well, it covers a lot of his best points around the STONED APE THEORY. This theory, propounded by McKenna, looks at the possibility of psilocybin mushrooms being responsible for our evolution as a species, and he goes into great detail on the causes leading up to it as well as the fallout from it.
This introductory chapter, “Could the mushroom have catalyzed evolution?”, takes a look at us (as a species) as the biggest mystery on Earth. How is it that we are clearly so different from other primates? How is it that we are the only species to formulate and use language to such a degree? We have created religion, architecture, government, music, sport… What were the conditions at the time that this differentiation from the rest of the Animal Kingdom began to express itself (that is, when the apes began to really push into human cognition)? And is it plausible that the mushroom (Stropharia cubensis) played a role of catalyst in our evolution? Listen to Terence talk about it, because he does a way better job than I can hope to. If you want a quick recap, read up about the two most well known psychoactive mushrooms, Stropharia cubensis and Amanita muscaria on this blog.
The point of sharing this information is so that you can learn about your history. You must know your history as a human being. If we can come to a consensus that we have all come from the same place, and that our humanness seems to be tied up with this experience which was known even to our ape ancestors, then perhaps we can shed our external differences, and get rid of the religious dogma that stem from that one true experience.
When you listen to a lot of McKenna, you find after a while that he talks about the same themes a lot, though the content is very vast. However, each lecture is a little different, and he goes into different levels of detail on each topic or tells different anecdotes. And the question-answer rounds with the audiences are always great and chock full of delicious discussions. After you have covered most of his major points, you may feel that you are done with McKenna and that’s totally cool.