Did psychedelics stimulate human consciousness?
First proposed by 20th century ethnobotanist Terence McKenna (1946-2000) in his 1992 book “Food of the Gods,” the basic concept is that the consumption of psychedelic fungi may have played a crucial role in the development of human mind and culture.
In essence, the hypothesis suggests we owe the emergence of language and self-reflection to ancient, sustained consumption of psilocybin mushrooms. The exact timeline for the emergence of consciousness varies, but [ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna] believes the process may have begun as far back as 2 million years ago.
Terence presented an interpretation in which our ancestors would have followed herds of cows and other herbivores, depending on them for food and clothing, but also harvesting the psychedelic mushrooms that grew readily from their dung. The regular consumption of these mushrooms could have proven advantageous as humans spread out into new territory.
“Psychedelic mushrooms appear advantageous for adaptation to new circumstances because they de-pattern the mind/brain, alter modes of perception and induce synaesthesia,” [professor Dr. Thomas] Falk says. “Terence McKenna and mycologist Paul Stamets argue that these mushrooms may have allowed our ancestors to forge connections between sounds, symbols and meanings, which is the essence of ‘the creative explosion’: human language, symbol manipulation and communication.”