Terence McKenna on Psychedelics, Art and Empowerment

By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness

I could give the usual description of Terence McKenna – he was a writer, author, lecturer and advocate of psychedelic drugs – but it doesn’t really capture what he was about. He was a pioneer in the psychedelic movement, and he believed that the use of psychedelics is the best way to expand our consciousness and come closer to the great mystery.

Some of his theories and opinions contradict a lot of things that form the foundation of the conscious community and the New Age movement, and he felt that psychedelics are all we need to speed up the evolutionary process.

He discouraged following spiritual teachers, and he felt that the sacred teacher plants are our true guides. He also had a unique perspective on the UFO phenomenon.

Terence McKenna. Credit: newprophetsinitiative.blogspot.com

He theorized that the UFO is a manifestation of the oversoul of humanity (rather than friendly extraterrestrial visitors), and he prophesized that UFOs would land, help us reconstruct society in a more enlightened way, and leave, making us wonder why they left and disappointing those who chose to worship them. (1)

While he didn’t discourage being interested in the subject, he did discourage worshipping the UFO as a god.

He believed that the purpose of the collective oversoul posing as friendly extraterrestrial visitors is to help us get back on the right track, and once we are, it’s up to us to stay there; hopefully, without running our society into the ground all over again.

UFO sightings and contacts appear to have taken place throughout history, and every time the spiritually and technologically evolved extraterrestrials land and begin helping, they depart soon after, leaving a civilization to either utilize their teachings and technology or fall into idol worship.

The oversoul manifesting itself as extraterrestrial visitors wasn’t his only unique theory, and here, we’ll discuss some quotes from him that sum up what he stood for and who he was.

The quotes come from End All Disease, and in the first one, McKenna shares his thoughts on the importance of the psychedelic experience.

“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.”

Credit: in5d.com

In one of his well-known quotes, he points out that experimenting with our consciousness is a human right.

 “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.”

You don’t have to agree with psychedelic use to agree that we have a right to decide what we do with our own body as long as we aren’t hurting anyone, and if we don’t have control over such a personal matter, we really don’t have control over anything.

We shouldn’t let the power structures use unjust laws to define what we can and can’t do with our own body, and nobody should be jailed for psychedelics.

He also encourages us to produce our own images instead of continuously consuming the ones society pushes on us.

“Stop consuming images and start producing them.”

At our core, we’re creative beings who thrive from self-expression, and the more of our own images we produce, the fewer images we’ll want to consume.

We’ll be more interested in how we can move the world forward than keeping up with our favorite movies or TV shows, and if we’re determined, we’ll achieve great things for the planet in the face of all odds.

Credit: 3polkadots.com

In another well-known quote, McKenna reminds us that we all matter.

 “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.”

No matter how separate we feel from a higher consciousness, we’ll reunite with it again someday. We might as well use the time we have to help the world wake up and create a personal revolution that, if persistently pursued, will become a worldwide revolution of the heart.

If we can help the world in some way before we return to the unfathomably vibrant and mystical place from which we came, then our existence on this planet will mean something. We can look back knowing we did our best and helped some people along the way, and it’ll make our triumphant return back to the unknown all the more enjoyable.

According to McKenna, the world is in “crisis” because of a lack of consciousness.

“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.”

We can be the ones to fix our society’s massive lack of consciousness, and it starts with us regaining our own inner awareness and then raising the awareness of others.

It’s not hard to raise awareness with the internet and other things that bring people together, and we just have to find and pursue what we enjoy. In doing so, we can bring back the good ideas this world needs, and it all results from an increase in social and spiritual consciousness.

Credit: agnt.org

McKenna also encourages us to turn our backs on our defunct culture and create something new with the imagination.

“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.”

The imagination, he believes, “is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.”

Nature will reward us for having courage, he tells us.

“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 its a feather bed.”

Anything is possible for the person who tries their hardest, and the obstacles that seem impossible are the ones that help us grow the most.

Courage comes from love, so if we want the courage to keep on, we only need to look in the heart. We only need to open the mind (but not too much, as McKenna also famously said), and let the courage and wisdom of the heart pour through.

Then, we’ll realize that the obstacles in our way are easily solvable if we approach them from the heart and we have the courage to keep working on them when they challenge us the most.

As long as we wholeheartedly commit, we’ll be granted the power we require and little helpful serendipities will occur to make the mission easier. We’ll do fine as long as we have love, and again, in love we find courage and various other qualities, like compassion, that are crucial on the spiritual path.

According to McKenna and pretty much anyone else who’s in the know, our governments don’t keep psychedelics illegal to protect us, but to keep us from deconstructing their illusion.

“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.”

Along with psychedelics, he tells us that artists – painters, musicians, writers, and plenty of others – can save mankind’s soul.

“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.”

The artist has a responsibility to share their light and awaken people, and if you’re a creative person, you’ve been gifted with a great opportunity to contribute something real and valuable to the world. You might want to take it, because art is arguably the best way for the lightworker or spiritual warrior to contribute to humanity’s evolution.

Credit: shorebread.com

In one of my favorite quotes, McKenna tells us that words make up the world.

“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.”

This is an exciting quote for a writer, because it acknowledges the power of words. Along with music, words give us the power to express our souls, thereby bringing the content of our inner reality to the physical world.

They allow us to merge the physical and spiritual by giving us an outlet with which to express our creative side, and their power is evident in the way they can either crush or uplift people.

Though I have to admit, I do enjoy this quote from poet Scroobius Pip, taken from Songlyrics.com:

“In the end they are just words. You give them power when you cower, man, it’s so absurd.”

In our final two quotes, McKenna encourages self-empowerment.

“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.”

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

It’s crucial to know what we want to do with our life, and if we don’t follow our dreams, we’ll be forced to help someone else bring theirs into reality.

I think everyone should be able to make a living at something they’re passionate about if they’re willing to work hard, but we can’t expect to get too far if we don’t have that inner fire. It consists of love and intense passion for our work, and it allows for amazing accomplishments in the struggle to heal the world.

It inspires us to work hard enough to make a real, positive mark on the world and encourage people to live with purpose, and if we aren’t willing to look deep in ourselves for this crucial inner flame, we’ll be stuck working for someone else.

Credit: visionair.nl

There are plenty more profound and insightful quotes from Terence McKenna to be found here on the internet, and personally, I enjoy his teachings because they’ve forced me to reevaluate what I thought I knew.

You don’t have to agree with psychedelic use to see that Terence McKenna had a lot of great things to say about humanity’s evolution, and the day will eventually come when psychedelics are taken seriously and their power is understood.

Society’s starting to change its views on marijuana, so that day could come sooner than we think.


  1. Terence McKenna: “The Oversoul as Saucer” Erowid.org – https://erowid.org/culture/characters/mckenna_terence/mckenna_terence_oversoul.shtml

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