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Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge : A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution | [Terence McKenna]

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge : A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution

Terence McKenna hypothesizes that as the North African jungles receded, giving way to savannas and grasslands near the end of the most recent ice age, a branch of our arboreal primate ancestors left the forest canopy and began living in the open areas beyond. There they experimented with new varieties of foods as they adapted, physically and mentally, to the environment. Among the new foods found in this environment were psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
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Publisher's Summary

Terence McKenna hypothesizes that as the North African jungles receded, giving way to savannas and grasslands near the end of the most recent ice age, a branch of our arboreal primate ancestors left the forest canopy and began living in the open areas beyond. There they experimented with new varieties of foods as they adapted, physically and mentally, to the environment. Among the new foods found in this environment were psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing near dung of ungulate herds occupying the savannas and grasslands.

Referencing the research of Roland L. Fisher, McKenna claims the enhancement of visual acuity was an effect of psilocybin at low doses and suggests this would confer adaptive advantage. He argues that the effects of slightly larger doses, including sexual arousal, and in larger doses, ecstatic hallucinations & glossolalia - gave selective evolutionary advantages to members of those tribes who partook of it. There were many changes caused by the introduction of this psychoactive to primate diets. He hypothesizes, for instance, that synesthesia (the blurring of sensory boundaries) caused by psilocybin led to the development of spoken language: the ability to form pictures in another person's mind through the use of vocal sounds.

About 12,000 years ago, further climate changes removed psilocybin-containing mushrooms from human diets. He argues that this event resulted in a new set of profound changes in our species as we reverted to the previous brutal primate social structures that had been modified and/or repressed by frequent consumption of psilocybin.

©1992 Terrence McKenna (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Deserves to be a modern classic on mind-altering drugs and hallucinogens." (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Denise (Julian) Greene Northern California 11-07-12
    Denise (Julian) Greene Northern California 11-07-12
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    "A paradigm shifting experience"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Food of the Gods to be better than the print version?

    This was my first time using an audio edition for non-fiction. I cannot say that it is better than the print version, because I'm one who likes to go back over pithy contents again and again, and that's a bit tough to do with an audio recording. I did learn how to use the bookmarks to mark the places I wanted to return to, but it's still not as easy as marking a print copy and thumbing back to it. I love audio for fiction, but this book introduced a lot of new concepts to me, so it was slow going. Early on I reduced the rate of play to 50%, which had the curious effect of sounding like McKenna himself reading it. Which tells me a lot about McKenna and the effects of his personal explorations: he knew a slower, unhurried and less stressful existence, one that plants themselves might teach.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Food of the Gods?

    McKenna's statement that, "If the ego is not regularly and repeatedly dissolved in the unbounded hyperspace of the Transcendent Other, there will always be slow drift away from the sense of self as part of nature's larger whole. The ultimate consequence of this is the fatal ennui that now permeates Western civilization."


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There aren't exactly "scenes" in a non-fiction book, but McKenna does begin some chapters with vignettes of daily life in the tribes he is exploring. Each one builds on the last and provides new eye-opening information.


    If you could give Food of the Gods a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Brilliant, paradigm-shifting, research and reflection on a very important subject.


    Any additional comments?

    The best part of audio books is that I can use them when exercising, driving, etc. but I will likely purchase the print or Kindle version of the book as well.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 06-06-14
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 06-06-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Just too repetitive and scientific terms"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    You really need to know biology to just know what they are referring to. Interesting but got bored after a while. Finished but did not enjoy all that much.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Salomon P rishon, KY, United States 05-04-13
    Salomon P rishon, KY, United States 05-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "This book should be in schools"
    Where does Food of the Gods rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very High, amazing book!!! great perspective!


    What did you like best about this story?

    you will find here stuff not many people are talking about, this not drug propaganda but a serious reflection of our society and the drugs it prefers and condemn.


    Have you listened to any of Jeffrey Kafer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    the fact sugar and coffee have a full chapter in the history of human compassion of drugs, made me really rethink the whole thing.


    Any additional comments?

    most read!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scott SPRINGVILLE, UT, United States 07-29-13
    scott SPRINGVILLE, UT, United States 07-29-13 Member Since 2012
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    "TOP THREE MOST PIVOTAL BOOK"
    Would you listen to Food of the Gods again? Why?

    We have this book on a CONTINUOUS LOOP


    Any additional comments?

    READ:"Shock Doc." Klein, Zinn, Adam Hochschild & Jon Krakauer

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ernesto Eduardo 08-27-14
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    "Great book , terrible terrible narrator !"
    Would you try another book from Terence McKenna and/or Jeffrey Kafer?

    Terence is GREAT, the narrator is completely off !

    After being a follower of McKenna and having enjoyed many many hours of his workshop and conferences (and being amused by his eloquence in his memorable voice and intonation) , I could not resist for more than 2 minutes the way in which this narrator reads the humble and harmonic message of Terence. This guy is reading Terence theory as if it was breaking news in the 80s. I REALLY COULDN'T RESIST IT ! and I wanted so bad...


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jeffrey Kafer’s performances?

    NO !


    Could you see Food of the Gods being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Steve Buscemi - Great look alike, even the voice (Terence's most noticeable feature) is similar.


    Any additional comments?

    Dissapointing narration, obviously this guy didn't took the trouble to listen to Terence, otherwise he wouldn't have made such a terrible, abominable and even ironic (sounds exactly like the TV media that McKenna was againts).

    What a shame, looking for other books from Terence read by someone who knows about him.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    F3EN PERU, IN, United States 02-11-14
    F3EN PERU, IN, United States 02-11-14 Member Since 2013

    Hello, My name is Levi Brousseau. I'm on a life long mission to find stories that blow my mind.

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    "Food for Thought"
    Would you listen to Food of the Gods again? Why?

    Yes i will. there is so much T.M. has to say.


    Any additional comments?

    This story has a buffet of things to chew on a digest. I love getting lost in the mind of T.M. If you have an open mind ,this is a great book for you. I do wish T.M. could have narrated the book himself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Phillip 10-03-13
    Phillip 10-03-13
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    "I have to re-listen"
    Where does Food of the Gods rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really enjoyed it, but I must read/listen to it again to get the most of all the historical data contained within.


    Any additional comments?

    buy it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 05-01-14
    Tim United States 05-01-14 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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    "Not Food, but Drugs"

    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 more and more because his explanation was starting to make sense. For example, McKenna was big on hallucinogens and other drugs, but did you know that Coca was use like a daily vitamin for many tribes in South America before Cocaine was invented. The demand from the western world started the drug trade as we know it. Before the mass started to use these drugs for entertainment, the natives used them as medicine to heal.

    I just wished that the author would had gone more in depth on how other cultures uses narcotics to reach their spiritual needs.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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