60 Remarkable Terence Mckenna Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind


Known as an ‘intellectual voice of rave culture’ and ‘an authority on the ontological foundations of shamanism’, Terence McKenna was an American ethnobotanist and mystic.

He believed that when used responsibly, psychedelic plants can help one achieve a profound visionary experience. Mckenna was also an avid butterfly collector and a proponent of the ‘Stoned ape’ theory on the evolution of man.

Who is Terence Mckenna

Born on November 16, 1946, Terence Kemp McKenna was raised in Paonia, Colorado. As a kid, he already showed early signs of being an intellectual: he was a voracious reader and he enjoyed fossil-hunting. He began an interest in magic mushrooms after reading an article on LIFE magazine entitled, ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom’. By 16 years of age, he would be going deeper into this subject.

In college, Mckenna explored shamanism and traveled to Jerusalem and Nepal. During this time, he would learn more about the use of visionary plants in shamanic rituals. Mckenna also dabbled in other interesting pursuits, like becoming a hashish smuggler as well as a professional butterfly collector. By 1972, he would begin a relationship with his later wife, ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison.

Mckenna always suffered from migraines; but in May 1999, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Before his death in April, 2000, Mckenna was able to peacefully come to terms with his condition. He was grateful for time spent with loved ones. His doctors found no correlation between his frequent use of psychedelic drugs and the cancer. Mckenna died at the age of 53.

Mckenna, Psychedelics, and Shamanism

Mckenna had always believed in the benefits of psychedelic drugs, particularly those found in nature, such as mushrooms. Most of his books, including Food of the Gods, True Hallucinations, and History Ends in Green, talks about how man can achieve enlightenment through the proper use and knowledge of psychedelics. In fact, Mckenna had been known to smoke cannabis everyday since his teens.

Mckenna also prefers Shamanism over organized religion. He believed that early religions in the world began with a psychedelic experience. However, through the imposition of more aggressive groups of people, hierarchies, castes, and taboos were born. Shamanism, he argued, helps you explore the unknown. In his words: ‘We know a tremendous amount about what is going on in the heart of the atom, but we know absolutely nothing about the nature of the mind.’

Whether you believe in the metaphysical or the divine, these quotes and sayings by Terence Mckenna will still sound out of this world.

Mind-Blowing Terence Mckenna Quotes

  1. “I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “If the words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “If you don’t smoke cannabis, you may spend your evening balancing your checking account. If you do smoke cannabis you may spend your evening contemplating the causes of the Greek Renaissance.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Stop consuming images and start producing them.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “You are a divine being. You matter, you count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The male dominant agenda is so fragile that any competitor is felt as a deadly foe.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “You simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead and get with the program of a living world and the imagination.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The imagination is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The message of psychedelics is that culture can be re-engineered as a set of emotional and spiritual values rather than products. This is terrifying news.” – Terrence McKenna

  1. “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Half the time you think your thinking you’re actually listening.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Animals are something invented by plants to move seeds around. An extremely yang solution to a peculiar problem which they faced.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The purpose of life is to familiarize oneself with this after-death body so that the act of dying will not create confusion in the psyche.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “You see, a secret is not something untold. It’s something which can’t be told.” – Terrence McKenna

  1. “If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “My technique is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “It’s clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it’s not easy.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “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.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Some kind of dialogue is now going on between individual human beings and the sum total of human knowledge and nothing can stop it.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Nothing comes unannounced, but many can miss the announcement. So it’s very important to actually listen to your own intuition rather than driving through it.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We need to interact with like-minded people throughout the world to establish the new intellectual order which will be the salvation of mankind.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.” – Terrence McKenna

  1. “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.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Ego is a structure that is erected by a neurotic individual who is a member of a neurotic culture against the facts of the matter. And culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get this, get that.’ And then you’re a player, but you don’t want to play in the game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “It is the imagination that argues for the Divine Spark within human beings. It is literally a descent of the World’s Soul into all of us.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Even as the nineteenth century had to come to grips with the notion of human descent from apes, we must now come to terms with the fact that those apes were stoned apes.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the Earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “If you keep yourself as the final arbiter you will be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The way you stretch the envelope of culture is by creating language.” – Terrence McKenna

  1. “The real tension is not between matter and spirit, or time and space, the real tension is between information and nonsense.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Nothing lasts but nothing is lost.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Matter is not lacking in magic, matter is magic.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “People are so alienated from their own soul that when they meet their soul they think it comes from another star system.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Ideology always paves the way toward atrocity.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas. It is the night sea journey, the lone fisherman on a tropical sea with his nets, and you let these nets down – sometimes, something tears through them that leaves them in shreds and you just row for shore, and put your head under your bed and pray.  At other times what slips through are the minutiae, the minnows of this ichthyological metaphor of idea chasing.  But, sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “You don’t want to become so open-minded that the wind can whistle between your ears.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “If you’re not the hero of your own novel, then what kind of novel is it? You need to do some heavy editing.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology.” – Terrence McKenna

  1. “Unexamined cultural values and limitations of language have made us unwitting prisoners of our own assumptions.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “This is a society, a world, a planet dying because there is not enough consciousness, because there is not enough awareness, enough coordination of intent-to-problem. And yet, we spend vast amounts of money stigmatizing people and substances that are part of this effort to expand consciousness, see things in different ways, unleash creativity. Isn’t it perfectly clear that business as usual is a bullet through the head?” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “The culmination of man’s effort in time will be the perfection and the release of the human soul. And it’s not that we are ‘doing’ it. It’s that a natural law that we are still unaware of is inexorably unfolding.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Our world is in danger by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it’s really all about.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “We have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us – the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “What civilization is, is 6 billion people trying to make themselves happy by standing on each other’s shoulders and kicking each other’s teeth in. It’s not a pleasant situation.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects, creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions, churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It dis-empowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Personal empowerment means de-conditioning yourself from the values and the programs of the society and putting your own values and programs in place.” – Terrence McKenna


  1. “Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.” – Terrence McKenna

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