August 28, 2014 - Terence McKenna
viewed cannabis, psilocybin, DMT, LSD, and other psychedelics as â€ścatalysts of intellectual dissent.â€ť He wrote in The Archaic Revival (1991) that his assumption about psychedelics had always been that they were illegal â€śnot because it troubles anyone that you have visionsâ€ť but because â€śthere is something about them that casts doubts on the validity of reality.â€ť This makes it difficult, McKenna observed, for societiesâ€”even democratic and especially â€śdominatorâ€ť societiesâ€”to accept them, and we happen to live in a global â€śdominatorâ€ť society.
McKenna often used the words â€śpartnershipâ€ť and â€śdominatorâ€ť to refer to types of societies and relationships. Riane Eisler, whose work McKenna often praised, coined these terms. In The Archaic Revival, McKenna wrote:
Recently Riane Eisler
in her important revisioning of history, The Chalice and the Blade, has advanced the important notion of â€śpartnershipâ€ť models of society being in competition and oppressed by â€śdominatorâ€ť forms of social organization. These latter are hierarchical, paternalistic, materialistic, and male dominated. Her position is that it is the tension between these two forms of social organization and the overexpression of the dominator
model that is responsible for our alienation. I am in complete agreement with Eislerâ€™s view.
To better understand why, in McKennaâ€™s view, psychedelics are illegal, it may be helpful to examine why the world today operates on a dominator instead of a partnership model, and what exactly these terms mean. To do this, weâ€™ll examine Eislerâ€™s work, which (like much of McKennaâ€™s work, I think) exposed egregiously overlooked and deliberately suppressed aspects of history and nature. In her book The Chalice and the Blade, Eisler argued that for the majority of at least the past ~32,000 years, humans lived in partnership societies, within a global partnership cultureâ€”a way of life that is almost unimaginable today.
Eisler introduced the terms partnership and dominator via her Cultural Transformation theory, which proposed that â€śunderlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.â€ť In (1) the dominator model, half of humanity is ranked over the other half. Because this bias involves â€śthe most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female,â€ť it then becomes the basis for all other relationships (and, I think, probably even experiences). In (2) the partnership model, diversity isnâ€™t equated with inferiority or superiority; instead of â€śranking,â€ť thereâ€™s what Eisler called â€ślinking.â€ť
In Eislerâ€™s view, the dominator/partnership dichotomy is neither ideology-specific (both capitalism and communism can, and have, operated with dominator values) nor gender-specificâ€”both women and men can, and do, embody dominator attitudes. McKenna praised this aspect of Eislerâ€™s work in particular. He said in The Evolutionary Mind (1998):
I donâ€™t see it as a male disease. I think everybody in this room has a far stronger ego than they need. The great thing that Riane Eisler, in her book The Chalice and the Blade, did for this discussion was to de-genderize the terminology. Instead of talking about patriarchy and all this, what we should be talking about is dominator versus partnership society.
While itâ€™s often assumed that men have historically been the dominant, oppressive sexâ€”which would potentially debunk Eislerâ€™s gender-neutral theoryâ€”that is incorrect. Eisler showed that the dominator model that now exists globally, and which is arguably led by the United States, a country with 44 consecutive male presidents and vice presidents, is a recent development. From ~35000 BC (the earliest that â€śso-called Venus figurines,â€ť as Eisler called them, have been dated) to ~5000 BC, humans exemplified the partnership model. There was neither patriarchy nor matriarchy. As McKenna wrote in Food of the Gods (1992):
Eisler used the archaeological record to argue that over vast areas and for many centuries the partnership societies of the ancient Middle East were without warfare and upheaval. Warfare and patriarchy arrived with the appearance of dominator values.
Evidence of this partnership way of life was discovered, among other places, at a site called Catal HuyukÂ in Anatolia. Excavations uncovered a period of time from ~7500 BC (at the time Eislerâ€™s book was published excavations had only uncovered back to ~6500 BC) to ~5700 BC. The archeologists found â€śno glaring social inequalities,â€ť a matrilineal and matrilocal social organization, and that â€śthe divine family of Catal Huyukâ€ť was represented in this order of importance: mother, daughter, son, father.