Food of the Gods began it's journey by setting up a context - the world we live in is lacking a spiritual connection to the plant life that we have evolved with through out time. Now more than ever is it necessary to rebuild this relationship in a way that allows us to respect and appreciate the gifts that the biological world has given us. The gift is what most refer to as psychedelics, however that term doesn't begin to describe what these gifts are to us. That word retains a negative connotation, one that doesn't lend itself to the spiritual capacity these plants have had and can have for us.
"Something profound, unexpected, nearly unimaginable awaits us if we will turn our investigative attentions toward the phenomenon of shamanic plant hallucinogens. The people outside of Western history, those still in a dream time of preliteracy, have kept the flame of a tremendous mystery burning. It will be humbling to admit this and to learn from them, but that too is a part of the Archaic Revival."
McKenna's intention is clear and this book sets the scene. Humanity has evolved with hallucinogenic plants, Food of the Gods attests to that evolution, and creates a very substantial theory that our minds have been capable of such a rapid (or not so rapid depending on your perspective) evolution because we have co-evolved with these plants. After an Archaic history lesson McKenna stresses what needs to be done,
"If we acknowledge that the Archaic Revival will be a paradigm transformation and that we really can create a caring, refeminized, ecosensitive world by going back to very old models, then we must admit that more than political exhortation will be needed. To be effective, the Archaic Revival must rest on an experience that shakes each and every one of us to our very roots. The experience must be real, generalized, and discussible."
If we can legitimately believe and know that the Archaic Revival is the transformation that humanity needs, in order for it to be affective we need an experience that will shake our very souls. That kind of experience must be real, and must be something we can discuss. McKenna walks us through the mistakes that we've made with past drugs, showing us the error in our humanity - creatures that have become slaves to variety, and ones that completely lost our morals over pure sugar.
"The intoxicants of the Christian dominator culture, whether plants or synthetic drugs, were inevitably stimulants or narcotics- drugs of the workplace or drugs to dull care and pain. Drugs in the twentieth century serve only medical or recreational purposes. Yet even the West has retained the thin thread of remembrance of the Archaic, hierophantic, and ecstatic potential that certain plants hold."
Humanity has an addictive personality, this is obvious. I don't think it would be such a leap to imagine for a moment that this addition was really a symptom of a greater yearning, for a greater connection that cannot be satisfied in materiality or taste. What I enjoy most about this notion is the responsibility that McKenna places onto the artists to really make this clear.
"The shamanic response, the Archaic response, the human response, to this situation should be to locate the art pedal and push it to the floor. This is one of the primary functions of shamanism, and is the function that is tremendously synergized by the psychedelics. If psychedelics are exopheromones that dissolve the dominant ego, then they are also enzymes that synergize the human imagination and empower language. They cause us to connect and reconnect the contents of the collective mind in ever more implausible, beautiful, and self-fulfilling ways."
The notion that art can be responsible for drawing attention to and creating momentum about these notions is encouraging. How can art begin to satisfy the human desire for a greater connection to the world that they exists within? It's easy to imagine the millions of people on this planet thinking and asking themselves if there is something more to care about, something more to love, something that makes the grueling repetitive days more meaningful. Perhaps it is art that can answer that question, yes, there is, and here you are.
It is worth mentioning that my small amount of rambling about all of this is just scratching the surface of this Archaic Revival, I don't want to misrepresent anything I'm talking about, so please understand that the best way for you to get a clear idea about all of these ideas is to read and learn about them. I'm no expert on any of this, and am always welcome to more conversation and discourse.
McKenna makes an excellent case for the need of the Archaic Revival. This book was fun and informative to read, really great if you're looking for some perspective about why meaning can be so hard to come by.