We have collected 12 quotes from Terence McKenna, an American ethnobotanist, and advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants.

Terence Kemp McKenna was born on November 16, 1946, in Paonia, Colorado.

He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, language, philosophy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness.

Terence McKenna quotes:

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.”

2. “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.”

3. “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 behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

4. “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.”

5. “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.”

6. “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.”

7. “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”

8. “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.”

9. “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 in a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.”

10. “A life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience that primordial shamanism is based on is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.”

11. “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 the 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.”

12. “Right here and now, one quantum away, there is raging a universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyperdimensional, and extremely alien… What is driving religious feeling today is a wish for contact with this other universe.”

Sources: