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The Archaic Revival

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  1,625 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Cited by the L.A. Weekly as "the culture's foremost spokesman for the psychedelic experience," Terrence McKenna is an underground legend as a brilliant raconteur, adventurer & expert on the experiential use of mind-altering plants. In these essays, interviews & narrative adventures, McKenna takes us on a mesmerizing journey deep into the Amazon as well as into the ...more
Paperback, 1st , 288 pages
Published May 8th 1992 by Harper Collins (SanFrancisco)
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Erik Graff
Jun 28, 2010 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: McKenna fans
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley, James Koehnline
Shelves: psychology
Terence McKenna is one of the most interesting and entertaining speakers one can listen to. I strongly recommend listening to some of his public lectures and interviews about topics as diverse as James Joyce, psychedelics, Mayan calendrics, modern cosmology, ethnobotany, cybertechnology, the mass media et cetera. He is witty, charming and sometimes acutely creative. He is probably very, very stoned.

As a writer, McKenna does not shine as brightly. His best book may be Food of the Gods, but this c
Noah Green
Mar 19, 2010 Noah Green rated it liked it
I had to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head with this one. It's an interesting read, enjoyable, and also ridiculous. McKenna poses ways of looking at natural psychedelic experiences (psilocybin mushrooms and DMT, not LSD) as gateways into other realities and parallel universes. Oh, and he believes the psychedelics were put on planet earth by aliens so we could ingest them and listen to the aliens' instructions to guide our culture as a whole.

McKenna wants society to get to the po
Jan 03, 2011 John rated it really liked it
Zero stars for rationality + 4 for audacity = 4 stars
Ryan Jedlicka
Aug 08, 2007 Ryan Jedlicka rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: self transforming machine elves
You're probably not ready for this.
May 26, 2014 R R rated it it was amazing
Having read "food of the gods" and unfortunately found it fairly boring and dull i wasn't sure that this book would offer anything of interest to me. Thankfully my expectations were surpassed, this is truly a fascinating read.

The majority of the book derives from interviews which for me was fantastic (i feel he is at his best when talking). Despite the fact in the past i haven't enjoyed his writing, the essays allowed him to further expand on many topics introduced in the interviews and i am n
Oct 02, 2014 Jens rated it it was amazing
This book was important in my personal development. It lifted me out of my 'intellectual Kansas' so to speak, haha!

Here we have a collection of essays dealing with a wide range of topics all connected by the unifying theme; psychedelia.

Reading McKenna's prose is a psychedelic experience in itself! The guy expresses himself in a rich and beautiful way. His ideas are dense and rich, weaving Jungian archetypes, eschatology, process philosophy and Platonic forms together in a dizzying, but at the sa
Chad Oldham
Dec 06, 2009 Chad Oldham rated it it was amazing
God, i love Terence. This book catalogs alot of his mind-bending ideas. I remember a quote from terence that will stick with me forever "The deconstruction of reality has no bottom." kurtz said ...that quote was like "being shot in the head with a diamond."
Nov 09, 2014 Helmut rated it really liked it
Shed the monkey!
Zauberpilze sind außerirdische Lebensformen, die per Panspermie auf die Erde kamen und für die Entwicklung von Affen zum Menschen mitverantwortlich sind, sich uns in der Form des UFO metaphorisieren und uns den Weg weisen, wie wir am Ende der Geschichte (nicht der Welt), 2012, den nächsten Schritt zum Überbewusstsein erreichen, mit dem wir uns dann schnell auf den Weg zu den Sternen machen. So, das als Vorabwarnung; wer jetzt noch weiterliest, hat das Recht verwirkt, nachher süff
May 27, 2015 Preston rated it it was amazing
"What good is a theory of how the universe works if it's a series of tensor equations that, even when understood, come nowhere tangential to experience? The only intellectual or noetic or spiritual path worth following is one that builds on personal experience."

After reading Terrence Mckenna, everyone becomes a philosopher. This man, in my view, is still the most important philosopher to have ever lived; he certainly changed my life. I hope his motives for a new generation of seekers is met wit
Feb 24, 2016 Cameron rated it liked it
This collection of interviews, essays and articles contain the most entertaining expressions of the psychedelic audacity that originally inspired me to track down McKenna's writings. Whether or not his conjectures are meant to be taken literally misses the point of living inside his brain for a short time, which is a pleasure.
Sep 10, 2014 Marjan rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, art, shamanism
I thought this would be more like his other books; a developed argument on the subject, but in fact it is a compilation of essays and interviews. Not just that, it is also a collection of his wildest ideas. Although these things will not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with McKenna's work, it is good to have it on the shelf, since youtube videos don't fit there yet. ;)
Chris Feldman
Jul 28, 2009 Chris Feldman rated it it was ok
Another one from the crackpot shelf.
Dec 18, 2010 Ant rated it liked it
Disappointing. As a book that, beautifully jacketed in silver and adorned with an amazing sketch for every enticingly named chapter written by one of the most thought provoking speculators of the future of culture, promised much, I expected more. The first few chapters laid down the raps which McKenna is well known for; DMT, Psilocybin, the inner alien, logos as flying saucer, 2012 & all that follows that strain of eschatology, however most other chapters, many transcriptions of radio interv ...more
Ava k.o. Johnson
Before delving into this hodgepodge of essays, articles, and interviews take note that the subtitle of this book begins "speculations on..." meaning that the statements and claims therein are not necessarily driven by hard data, but by language and the imagination as it is informed by personal experience, research, and exploration. The approach is personal and phenomenological rather than empirical. It says that one need not look to the priesthood, or scientists and scholars, or ascetic monks an ...more
Pieter-Jan Beyul
Jul 28, 2011 Pieter-Jan Beyul rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-shelf
Today we're privileged to see hours of Terence McKenna lectures online with a single mouse click. So most of the ideas covered in this book, which is an anthology of articles, essays, travelogues and interviews, won't be unfamiliar to the regular McKenna fan.
But this book is still worth having on the shelf because next to being the greatest bards of the 20th century, McKenna is also a fantastic writer. As one of the few who dared to converse with the mushroom Logos, knowing how to handle the lin
Jun 27, 2016 Anthony rated it really liked it
Very thought-provoking, fecund with wild ideas, some of which haven't aged that well (like the world ending in 2012). It's impressive to read this book from the 80's and see how much freak-philosophy and fringe ideas are still basically just re-hashing quotes from Mckenna. Of course half the ideas are total bananas and half are pure genius and the fun part is trying to sort out which is which.

Some quotes I liked:

"almost all yogis are inveterate hash smokers"

"ecstasy is the contemplation of whole
Jun 09, 2013 Tristy rated it it was ok
Shelves: shamanism, scavenged
As far as Terrence McKenna books go, this one is actually the easiest to read. His writing can be dense, but also filled with beautiful metaphors. I find it fascinating that someone who talked so much about "destroying the ego" through hallucinogens, also believed that all the "messages" he received while taking "heroic trips" were true for every single person on the planet. Instead of paying attention to what he was bringing personally to his trips, he chose to remain OUTSIDE of himself to inte ...more
May 22, 2010 Stephen rated it liked it
2007 wrote: McKenna was not even in my spectrum of existence until about a year ago when i happened to be suggested it when shopping on I read a blurb and boughta few books and immediately shelved them when they came in, because there is always too much to read. Now that said, I have sine found that McKenna has a fairly large underground following and that can get damn near religious. the subtitle reads : "Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolut ...more
May 10, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Terence McKenna was a genius of philosophy and science who had a knack for poetic realization.

This is an early collection of essays, interviews and articles. I like the way it gives thought to a number of different issues and approaches some of the same thoughts from different angles. Admittedly, this creates a reprise of some analogies or trains of thought. Sometimes repetition is not a bad thing.

It also allows you to read and contemplate small servings of modern archaic philosophy, which I thi
Jun 11, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it
Im tempted to give this book 5 stars because it was just so entertaining. McKenna goes off the deep end in numerous parts, but he is also surprisingly lucid and rational when discussing seemingly bizarre subjects such as the "stoned ape" theory of evolution. The number of topics in this book is astounding, so anyone interested in scifi, fantasy, ethnobotany, travels in south america, aliens, Lovecraft, pantheism, 2012, and a lot of others.

Even though McKenna was dead wrong about numerous things,
Sep 04, 2008 William rated it did not like it
A member of America's Worst Generation tries to make a case for legalizing dangerous hallucinogens, and fails.

While I agree with many of his observations about history, I disagree with almost all of his views on the path we should take moving forward.

He dismisses those who can achieve shamanistic results without the use of hallucinogens, revealing his own prejudice that drugs are the only way.

He virtually ignores the curing side of shamanism (which after all was one of the main points of shamans
Dec 19, 2007 Brad rated it really liked it
Mind-bending thoughts about the true nature of our universe and mind. McKenna writes and speaks (over half of the book's chapters transcriptions of talks and interviews) with great clarity and concision. The ideas presented are sometimes outrageous, yet they are so well explained that it's hard to take them for anything but the truth. An exciting book to get one to really consider and push the limits of what modern science knows. Furthermore, a call to reunite humanity with itself, our planet, a ...more
Neal Young
I read this one awhile ago, but i distinctly remember this book kept me awake into the long hours of the night. Sleepless and not caring I soaked in every drop of ink from every letter of every word of this book. Many good memories lay within my head of staying up reading, enchanted by the words in front of me, this book being one of those shining memories forever brightening my day far flung into the future. It reminds me of friends lost and times long ago. I was told to read this book by my gr ...more
Mark Hammond
May 18, 2014 Mark Hammond rated it liked it

Terence McKenna is a brilliant cultural and evolutionary theorist who posits hallucinogenic plants as a driving force of human evolution and actually backs it up. One of the great takeaways is that all those buttoned up scientists of the first world initially learned about the medical efficacy of plants from indigenous shamans who received their knowledge in a direct pathway from the plant world itself in the form of ayahuasca or similar vegetal means. He is kind of an inconvenient genius in an
Aug 02, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who has the feeling that there is something huge and unseen on the horizon for our species
Recommended to Brian by: The Mushroom
Shelves: tmk, entheogens, nature
The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna

Most definitely a change of pace from FOOD OF THE GODS, in that the book doesn't flow in a chronological, story-like (although non-fiction) way that FOOD did. Instead each chapter is either a transcription of a lecture, an interview, or an article written on a specific topic... Pure knowledge. Please give Terence a chance... even if ya can't get into his books, just look up his lectures on You'll be glad you did... or perhaps you'll find yourself much more confused about our natu
Nov 17, 2012 Brett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Drug researchers, Open-Minded explorers
This is the book that helped direct my vulnerable psyche to amazing paths!

The concepts that Terrence McKenna delves into are heady, and sometimes overly complex, but that's why they fascinate me. Ever heard of "Machine Elves"? "The Logos" perhaps?

T.M. is on some whole other shit and I truly appreciated joining him. I need to re-read, as much was too difficult for me to comprehend back in those beautifully vulnerable teen years.

Highly recommended for open-minded folks. Makes me want to take a
Jul 02, 2008 Jason rated it liked it
So far I'm trying to keep my skepticism in check. Terrence McKenna promotes psychedelics as a way to expand consciousness. Right. Heard it all before. However, McKenna recounts his experiences and observations in an articulate, scientific manner. He isn't a San Francisco burnout promoting Love-In's and such. He doesn't even approve of LSD, but more exotic substances like ayahuasca and DMT. It's all about exploring our potential and making the world a better place. And no, I'm not taking any drug ...more
Dec 09, 2008 David rated it liked it
McKenna is well-known in the psychedelic community as a purveyor of fresh ideas. Archaic Revival is a collection of essays, speeches and interviews with McKenna and was published in 1991. The book covers shamanism, ancient manuscripts, the emergence of religion in the human mind, UFOs, the end of time, etc. The author's vocabulary is outstanding - he frequently uses words like entelechy, phenomenology, gnosis and eschatological. But the work is more or less easy to understand. Highly recommended ...more
Zach Bartell
Aug 20, 2012 Zach Bartell rated it it was ok
I like some of the ideas in this book, and the others I feel indifferent about. My favorite are the mystery of the homing pigeons' secret sense and the notion of the cosmic attractor. However, time-wave zero, which is referred to a few times throughout the book, is utter lunacy. I mean come on, divining the future by plotting historical events on a timeline against a decrypted I-Ching? It's humorous though and I forgive McKenna for being a radical nonconformist. I recommend this book to people w ...more
J Hyam
Apr 15, 2008 J Hyam rated it it was amazing
My fav McKenna book. He preaches the entheogenic (hallucinogen) way. The title refers to the archaic revival of modern times: new interest in body piercing, tattooing, psychedelia, surrealism, alternative sexuality, Earth worship... all of these values stem from an egalatarian human epoch, during a Neolithic era when Homo sapiens lived only in Africa. McKenna claims the source of "the last sane moment we ever knew" was the P. Cubensis mushroom cult of that time...
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Terence Kemp McKenna was a writer, philosopher, psychonaut and ethnobotanist. He was noted for his knowledge of the use of psychedelic, plant-based entheogens, and subjects ranging from shamanism, the theoretical origins of human consciousness, and his concept of novelty theory.
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“My voice speaking is a monkey's mouth making little mouth noises that are carrying agree-upon meaning, and it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth noises ” 34 likes
“It is not easy to measure the ocean, but we can be measured by it, confront it, and be in it.” 27 likes
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