Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge” as Want to Read:
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  3,462 ratings  ·  170 reviews
s/t: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution
For the first time in trade paperback, the critically acclaimed counterculture manifesto by the wildly popular McKenna. "Deserves to be a modern classic on mind-altering drugs and hallucinogens."--The Washington Post. Photos and illustrations.
Paperback, 311 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Bantam Books (NY) (first published 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Food of the Gods, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Food of the Gods

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellAnimal Farm by George OrwellThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Books that Changed My World View
22nd out of 164 books — 228 voters
Food of the Gods by Terence McKennaRuminations on Necromancy by The Silver ElvesFragmentos de una enseñanza desconocida. En busca de lo milag... by P.D. OuspenskyThe Conversation of Merachefet by C. JoyBell C.Death and other Taxes by Robby Miller
Food for the Gods
1st out of 12 books — 8 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
No Remorse
Aug 11, 2010 No Remorse rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to No Remorse by: Joe Rogan (
This is a pretty amazing book and a lot of new subject matter for me, and also my first encounter with Terence McKenna's work. I will probably read this again someday and learn just as much as I did the first time. Interesting subjects such as shamanism, evolution, philosophy, language, DMT, cave art, classical art, addictions, religion, rituals, and also very old short stories and the authors interpretation on how they relate to the mind altering mushrooms that give us that glimpse. TV as a d ...more
This book is trash.

I picked up this book because of an interest in drug culture and history. The premise sounds interesting enough: we stopped doing shrooms and got worse as a society, along with a history of cultural drug use.

Let me sum up the book for you in case the premise sounds interesting to you:

- Some ancient cultures used mushrooms.
- Lots of cultures MAY have used mushrooms but we'll never know
- Mushrooms may have helped the human brain evolve and help us evolve language
- Ancient or
Nick Stibbs
I first encountered McKenna in a New Age bookshop in Brighton, whilst perusing for material to flesh out an essay on Shamanism I was writing. I came home with 'The Archaic Revival', which introduced me to ideas such as the Logos (a rather more funky formulation than the Christian use of the word), the Mayan Calendar and 2012. My humanistic psychology professor, Brian Bates, suggested that McKenna was rather difficult to deal with academically, but nevertheless I proceeded to give a talk on how I ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: seekers
I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you why this book is FUCKING AMAZING - so you'll just have to trust me. This guy is an ethno-biologist, meaning he studies the interactions of "substances" and world cultures (past and present), and how the two have influenced each other; both biologically, mentally, spiritually, and culturally. This is truly a mind-fuck for those in search of knowledge; even making the (well supported) case that the original "fruit of Eden" was something ...more
This book is great-much more than a treatise on "shrooms" and dope. Have you ever thought about the mind altering power of purified sugar, the politics of coffee, and the parallels between these and what we consider to be more dangerous drugs like cocaine?
I have listened to several lectures and interviews by and with McKenna but this is the first book by him I have read. With McKenna there are always things I agree with, disagree with, think to myself well maybe and some things I write off as sheer kookery but I always found him and his ideas interesting.

There is a lot I totally or partially disagree with in this. He really pushes his theory that early man injesting Psilocybin mushrooms caused the brain to evolve to a state where man was able to
Dayes Mohammed
قراءة في أثر المخدرات في الديانات الشامانية القديمة ، و في الحضارات المندثرة ، و هذا مرده أن المخدرات لها أثر على العبادات الدينية القديمة ، و لها أثر اجتماعي إما بالسلب أو باالإيجاب ، تبدو فكرة الكاتب تتمحور حول المخدرات المشابهة للحشيش ، كنبات مقدس في الديانات الشامانية ، و أثرها الديني و الاجتماعي على تلك المجتمعات القديمة .
فقد اعتمد الكاتب على دراسات علمية لأثر هذا النوع من المخدرات على الفرد و المجتمع ، و دعا صراحة ً إلى تشريع استخدامه في الدول الأوروبية ، و ذلك لأثرها الاجتماعي الجيّد حسب
Gabriel Garcia
A lot of people write off Mckenna as a charlatan or performer, but having just discovered him, I'm impressed by his creative thinking and pathos. I encourage everyone to read him, I think his voice is necessary in a world where addictions run rampant and our understanding of ourselves has hit a trough where value is measured by productivity and consumerism. Some of his ideas are way out there, but if you give him a chance and go there with him, without judgement, the ideas will inspire some pret ...more
Mitch S
At first when I saw the title of the book I expected a list and history of the worlds drugs. It includes that, but so much more. The book is basically a history of humanity thus far and our relationship with drugs. It was only recently in our history (~100 years) that drugs became taboo. What was the crucial turning point for mankind? Did we suddenly become smarter and realize drugs are bad? No, the dominator society decided introspective drug taking interfered with consumer culture. (Read this ...more
Павел Степанов
This one is no doubt one of my personal favourites, and i recomend it to every open-minded person. I sincerely hope, that every reader will understand it correctly, yet i understand that this is impossible. Whenever you would like to discuss the book, i would like to join the discussion.
What a great book! The decision to close out 2008 with this book was made easier by my last McKenna review. In Food of the Gods, McKenna takes a historical look at the relationship between plants and human beings. This relationship is described in four parts: I. Paradise II. Paradise Lost III. Hell IV. Paradise Regained?

The first part of the book explains the conditions in place that forced human evolution. Namely, psylocybin mushrooms. Soma, a conscious-expanding, ecstacy-inducing drug of prehi
"I learned in India that religion, in all times and places where the luminous flame of the spirit has guttered low, is more than a hustle." -- Terrence McKenna

"The twentieth century linguistic revolution is the recognition that language is not merely a device for communicating ideas about the world, but rather a tool for bringing the world into existence in the first place. Reality is not simply 'experienced' or 'reflected' in language, but instead is actually produced by language." -- Terrence
Michael Brown
Several years back while shopping at Goodwill, I came across a copy of 'Food of the Gods' I knew of the book, but had not yet read it. A $1.99 lighter, I left the store with my new book. It was several days later that I began reading the book, open the first page to find that it was autographed by Terrence McKenna!

I read maybe 3/4 of the book, and I can't remember why I stopped reading, I know it wasn't because of the content. So it's sat on the shelf for years, until now.

Re-reading most of the
Mark R.
Terrence McKenna makes a good case for the idea that human evolution was directly involved with hallucinogenic plants, millions of years ago. He documents the use of such plants through pre-civilized cultures, up through our modern times, when our Western culture has more or less demonized such things. McKenna is justifiably outraged that the leading governments of the world completely ignore the possible benefits of mushrooms, LSD, and DMT, declaring them illegal and doing zero follow-up scient ...more
Kent Winward
I rarely support the trans-romantic fallacy that things were better in some romantic past -- each era has its pros and cons. The modern industrial world and pharmacopoeia are certainly an improvement over shamanic tribes, no contest in which world I would want to live in. The book's great weakness is this idea that the modern world is a degenerate form from the past. The political theory gets in the way of what would have been a fascinating overview of the drugs we choose to ingest. The sections ...more
Nov 01, 2007 SeaGreen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who is addicted to sugar
Shelves: recommended
An essential read and look into how our culture is defined by substances. You will go crazy over how SUGAR, an american staple, is brought to us strictly on the use of slaves. The laws against many plants infuriate and have deeper implications and deeper roots than just "they're bad for you." Drugs that do shit to your mind and body (sugar, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, etc) are legal but drugs that expand your mind and let you see how you're being fucked every day of your life by this lying moralit ...more
Benedict Anning
As expected, this was a simply charming and essential work on the study of ethnobotany, cultural theory and speculation, and philosophy.

Food of the Gods explores the relationship of the many drug-human interactions and effects of the past and present, entertains the (astonishingly well-documented and supported) theory of the Stoned Ape and our evolution of our consciousness through hallucinogens, comments on the psychedelic experience with many various accounts, and so much more.

The concept of a
Olivier Goetgeluck
"The shaman is more than merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself, who is cured, and who must shamanize in order to remain cured."

"Drumming, manipulation of breath, ordeals, fasting, theatrical illusions, sexual abstinence - all are time-honored methods for entering into trance necessary for shamanic work."

"A shaman is one who has attained a vision of the beginnings and the endings of all things and who can communicate that vision."

"Consciousness has been called aw
McKenna neither validates nor condemns drug use. He seems to focus heavily on mushrooms and Cocaine. Like they have a special place in his heart for one reason or another. Boomers more for its exploration of the soul, and Cocaine for its long history of human use. He's a little less insane than his reputation made him out to be. So intellectual. Clearly, he hasn't yet lost his mind. I feel like if McKenna had his way, a mushroom experience would be a requirement for life, and nicotine and alcoho ...more
Tim Jin
When I bought "Food of Gods", I thought that I was getting ready to
read a dietary subject, but I should had noticed the big mushroom on
the front cover and be reading something else beside the five food
groups. As I was chuckling to myself on what I was reading, I did a
search on the author and found out that Terence McKenna devoted his
life on shamanism. He was like an anthropologist on foods, drugs and
how it affected man throughout different tribes and generations.

I started to credit his theory mo
I first read this book in the late 90s and I wanted to see how it holds up. Terence Mckenna's best writing is in "True Hallucinations," but this may be his most important book. A lot of the early sections are speculative. He provides a great deal of evidence to support his view that psilocybin mushrooms had a huge influence on early humans. Later chapters deal with other substances (substitutes in Mckenna's view) and how they affected human history. More important than the anthropological specul ...more
This is a book about a wild idea; the development of human brain is by far the largest and the quickest event in the evolutionary history. Something extraordinary must have happened to cause this explosion of neurons and consequently our consciousness. On the other hand, our biology has barely changed since 100.000 years ago and yet we can speak about civilization only for the last 10.000 years (if we are generous), cities and states for the last 5.000 years and modern technology for the last 1. ...more
By food, he means mind-altering drugs; mushrooms, alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, etc. By gods, he means achieving a different perception of reality.

The author discusses differences between dominator societies and partnership societies. Dominator being hierarchal, restrictive, male-dominated societies. Partnership being a more integrated, feminine-loving, hippy kind of thing. He relates use of drugs to these societies in interesting ways.

He did discuss how he thought these drugs affected hu
Jul 02, 2007 Joshua added it
Recommends it for: psychedilc fans
The mushroom king, if you've ever run into a real shroom fan, then they should know all about McKenna. If you like shamanism, like I did at one point in my life, you will find this interesting. Otherwise, it's just another book that i attempted to read. It wasn't very good, even with my interest in shamanism and expanding my mind. If you like the unscientific theories on consciousness though, this book is for you.
David Schumacher
Words can't describe how great this book is. I feel like i learned more from this book than i did all of my years of history class in high school, and it was my favorite class. Mckenna has an amazing perspective on how we evolved and puts things in an order where it is almost impossible to deny his theory on human evloution and the power of psylocybin on the human psyche.
Fanciful ideas and interesting concepts, but at the end of the day chuck-full of new age psycho-babble.
Some of the things he asserts are interesting and engaging to think about and entertain, but most of what he says seems to be fueled by his own adventures as a psychonaut and not concepts that are based in any measurable reality.
I had high hopes for this book as I'm very interested in the evolution of consciousness and language, but unfortunately I couldn't even finish it. The ideas presented are very interesting, but he rambles on about things that are unrelated. I love academic reads and I struggled with this as his sentences were so heavy with unnecessarily huge words from the thesaurus that it was a bore to read. He also mentions many times and goes off into tangents about how we are no longer one with nature, destr ...more
Καλό ως παραμύθι και ως υλικό και περισσότερη μελέτη, αλλα το McKenna πάντα θολώνει τα πεδίο με τις ιδιαίτερες απόψεις και πεποιθήσεις του.
Aleksandar Janković
A lot of pages have been spent on the theory that psychedelics helped develop humans to what we are today. While definitely an interesting idea, there is very little to backup that claim. I would have enjoyed the book more if he spent less time on this, and more time on his other ideas.

Fore example, I really enjoyed his analysis of sugar and TV addiction. In particular, his comments on sugar addiction came almost two decades before these views became mainstream. TV was only the tip of the electr
Rachel Smith
Humans evolved from magic mushroom eating monkeys. Sold.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens & the I Ching
  • Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers
  • Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism
  • DMT: The Spirit Molecule
  • Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story
  • LSD My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science
  • Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind
  • The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross
  • Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream
  • The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft
  • Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness
  • The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
  • Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD and the Sixties Rebellion
  • The Center of the Cyclone: Looking into Inner Space
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Bollingen)
  • Ayahuasca in My Blood: 25 Years of Medicine Dreaming
  • The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys
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
More about Terence McKenna...
The Archaic Revival True Hallucinations True Hallucinations/The Archaic Revival Plan, Plant, Planet Surfing on Finnegans Wake & Riding Range with Marshall McLuhan

Share This Book

“Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation.” 89 likes
“We can begin the restructuring of thought by declaring legitimate what we have denied for so long. Lets us declare Nature to be legitimate. The notion of illegal plants is obnoxious and ridiculous in the first place.” 45 likes
More quotes…