The Archaic Revival

By Terence McKenna, Tom Robbins

2,029 ratings - 4.18* vote

Cited by the L.A. Weekly as "the culture's foremost spokesman for the psychedelic experience," Terrence McKenna is an underground legend as a brilliant raconteur, adventurer & expert on the experiential use of mind-altering plants. In these essays, interviews & narrative adventures, McKenna takes us on a mesmerizing journey deep into the Amazon as well as into the hidden recesses of the human psyche & the outer limits of our culture, giving us startling visions of the past &

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Book details

Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 8th 1992 by Harper Collins (SanFrancisco)
Original Title
The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History
0062506137 (ISBN13:9780062506139)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Erik Graff

Terence McKenna is one of the most interesting and entertaining speakers one can listen to. I strongly recommend listening to some of his public lectures and interviews about topics as diverse as James Joyce, psychedelics, Mayan calendrics, modern cosmology, ethnobotany, cybertechnology, the mass media et cetera. He is witty, charming and sometimes acutely creative. He is probably very, very stoned.

As a writer, McKenna does not shine as brightly. His best book may be Food of the Gods, but this collection gives the reader an idea of the range of his interests and speculations.


You're probably not ready for this.


Zero stars for rationality + 4 for audacity = 4 stars

Noah Green

I had to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head with this one. It's an interesting read, enjoyable, and also ridiculous. McKenna poses ways of looking at natural psychedelic experiences (psilocybin mushrooms and DMT, not LSD) as gateways into other realities and parallel universes. Oh, and he believes the psychedelics were put on planet earth by aliens so we could ingest them and listen to the aliens' instructions to guide our culture as a whole.

McKenna wants society to get to the point where small portions of the population are taking psychedelics and communicating with each other and aliens in this alternate/parallel universe to make decisions for the entire population. While reading this I kept picturing the dorm room poster of the alien with the joint in his hand saying, TAKE ME TO YOUR DEALER, but like IN REVERSE, MANNNN. Terence McKenna is incredibly intelligent and he's serious about all this stuff and to me that's pretty admirable. Reading McKenna makes me want to get into a sensory deprivation tank.


Having read "food of the gods" and unfortunately found it fairly boring and dull i wasn't sure that this book would offer anything of interest to me. Thankfully my expectations were surpassed, this is truly a fascinating read.

The majority of the book derives from interviews which for me was fantastic (i feel he is at his best when talking). Despite the fact in the past i haven't enjoyed his writing, the essays allowed him to further expand on many topics introduced in the interviews and i am now contemplating going back and reading "food of the gods" as wells as his other 2 books. "The archaic revival" flows incredibly fluently and repeats some ideas just enough that you obtain a transparent picture of what he is getting at.

Wether scouring the amazon for potent Ayahuasca, analysing unreadable manuscripts, connecting himself to virtual realities or just compacting Tryptamine space into a "linguistic vessel" Mckenna's eccentric perspective will have you enthralled. I cannot recommend this enough for anybody attempting to make sense of the absurdity we inherit as humans. Really any person who wishes to examine ideas outside of the status quo.

I have absolutely no clue if he is right or wrong, but he demonstrates that there certainly are other options then the culturally accepted theories, That you CAN develop thoughts which are unthinkable by many.

"i think theres a shamanic temperament that is characterised by a craving for knowledge-knowledge in the greek sense of gnosis. In other words, knowledge not of the sort where one subscribes to scientific american and it validates what you believe, but cosmologies constructed out of immediate experience that are always applicable. You see, I don't believe the world is made up of quarks or electromagnetic waves or stars of planets, or any of these things. I believe the world is made up of language and that this primary fact has been overlooked" Pg 161

"our destiny is to become what we think, to have our thoughts become our bodies and our bodies become our thoughts. This is the essence of a more perfect logos, a logos not heard but beheld" Pg 232

{{ i would like to add if you disregard the possibility of psychedelics offering entrance into other realities and view this idea as far to ridiculous to be true (i.e. somebody who has likely not had a convincing psychedelic voyage). Unless you can put your preconceptions behind you, i would urge you to stay away or at least start with some different psychedelic literature (breaking open the head by Daniel Pinchbeck would be my suggestion as a introduction).}}


This book was important in my personal development. It lifted me out of my 'intellectual Kansas' so to speak, haha!

Here we have a collection of essays dealing with a wide range of topics all connected by the unifying theme; psychedelia.

Reading McKenna's prose is a psychedelic experience in itself! The guy expresses himself in a rich and beautiful way. His ideas are dense and rich, weaving Jungian archetypes, eschatology, process philosophy and Platonic forms together in a dizzying, but at the same time excillerating manner.

It seems to me, that many people miss the point about McKenna, believing he literally speaks of alien communication and the apocalypse. It is a result of his usage of language, which is filled with symbols and metaphors. I read the book a number of times in a row, taking my time with every other sentence trying to grasp its meaning. That is how McKenna should be read.

This book opened up my mind and made me consider everything in new ways. I do not necessarily agree with all of McKenna's views, but his work is deeply inspiring and remain an influence on me.

Chad Oldham

God, i love Terence. This book catalogs alot of his mind-bending ideas. I remember a quote from terence that will stick with me forever "The deconstruction of reality has no bottom." kurtz said ...that quote was like "being shot in the head with a diamond."

NHC Gonzo Division

Terence McKenna is one of my alltime favourite people. I hold him in very high esteem. An unbelievably intelligent, deep, complex, unique, insightful, sagacious individual. He was talking about stuff back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s that we’re only just starting to get-to-grips-with today: A.I, The Singularity, DMT, ayahuasca, quantum physics and so on and so forth. He is a luminary, a genius who was many lightyears ahead of his time.
A true polymath, he was a jack-of-many-trades and a disciple of manifold studies: Lepidopterist/urban shaman/psychonaut/botanist/entheogenist/mycologist/technoenthusiast/psychologist/writer/poet/artist/teacher/orator/traveller/anthropologist/environmentalist/chemist/hippy/raver/sesquipedalian/linguist/soothsayer/pioneer/truthseeker/humanist/raconteur/biologist....
Terence approached the psychedelic experience with an open, astute, logical, observant mind. He explored the realms of DMT and psilocybin etc. in a lab coat with a clipboard like a true scientist, and he extrapolated data. He has tripped on the local hallucinogen of just about every tribe left in the world, encompassing many thousands of miles around the globe on his mission and many lightyears through innerspace and transcendental space. Never was there a more courageous and fearless psychonaut as T. McKenna.
The Archaic Revival is nothing short of a manifesto for the 21st Century and beyond. In it, Terence shines his illuminating mind on a whole cross-section of subjects: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, evolution, environmental issues, shamanism, the “new age”, spirituality, modern science, The Voynich Manuscript, plant intelligence, and a very interesting take on the U.F.O phenomena. This is probably one of the most important books released last century and I believe it will only become more apparent over the coming decades. McKenna is the Tesla of psychedelics. Reading this book is almost as mind-altering an experience as the chemicals espoused within it! His most important work ‘Food of the Gods’ is also essential reading. And Terence has many talks and lectures on YouTube and a very, very mellifluous voice!


Pretty wild stuff. Some thought provoking things and some total bullshit. The world didn’t end in 2012 but at least McKenna could admit that he really didn’t know.

Johnny Cordova

A compilation of essays and interviews spanning 1983-1990, The Archaic Revival is a thoroughly satisfying overview of McKenna's signature ideas, ranging from the evolutionary importance of shamanism, time wave theory, "novelty," linguistics, deep ecology, the end of history, ufos as holographic projections from the future, and the symbiotic relationship between hallucinogenic plants and man.

Archaic Revival is a phrase coined by McKenna to define what he saw as a 20th century movement and return to the spiritual and ecological sensibilities of Paleolithic and Neolithic plant-based shamanism.

Heady stuff!