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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

Critic Reviews

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

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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.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Very informative.

Wish he was still here to write volume 2. Would have been nice if there was a version of him reading the book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Salomon P
  • rishon, KY, United States
  • 05-04-13

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A must read

Phenomenal depiction of the history of plant usage and the exploration of one's self. The undeniable relationship with nature is one to be shared with the world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Psychedelic Manifesto

Interesting theories. A lot of heady anthropology and background mixed with a new vision for cultural use of psychoactive plants and substances.

The narrator talks quickly. This made digesting some of the new (to me) vocabulary and names of indigenous people groups difficult.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • scott
  • SPRINGVILLE, UT, United States
  • 07-29-13

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

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Required reading for every human

This opened my eyes to the possibilities of a world more beautiful than I had thought possible. As a cynical war veteran it validate some of my suspicions about the real reasons behind our drug war, but the beautiful potential so far outweighs anything negative or cynical it is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to read this knowing a mind as beautiful as McKenna's, so full of wisdom and hope for our species, is buried under our childish understanding of "drugs". This book could save our society. All you need to do is read it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

This is by far the most profound book on psychedelics that I have ever come across. Worthy of your time and money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful