Daniel Pinchbeck's psychedelic shamanist apocalyptic vision

Posted on: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 14:07 By: Tom Swiss

As those who know me know, I have nothing against the appropriate use of "psychedelic" or "entheogenic" substances. Far from it. But I have to shake my head when someone starts taking their own feedback-saturated perceptions too seriously, as seen in this Rolling Stone profile of Daniel Pinchbeck:

This was all before Pinchbeck himself started making some very unusual claims. After separating from the heiress in 2003, he made a trip to Hawaii and the Amazon with an incredibly hot abstract painter and Santo Daime priestess, sunbathing nude with her by the Hawaiian cliffs. In the Amazon, he received a transmission from God, in the form of Quetzalcoatl, a mystical bird-serpent in Mayan myths. Quetzalcoatl told Pinchbeck that he is a prophet -- all those times in his life when he thought he was a loser, because his birthdate happens to be in June 1966 (666), and his surname happens to be a fancy word for "false gold," were signs that one day he'd be chosen to transmit some very special, intradimensional knowledge to the planet. Here it is: The world as we know it is about to end -- on December 21st, 2012, the last day of time in the Mayan calendar.

Like every good guru, Pinchbeck has perhaps intentionally made the details of this prophecy hard to pin down (and, in fact, he liberally borrowed from McKenna and Jose Arguelles, the ex-Princeton professor who has dedicated his life to promoting such ideas). Whether there will be a complete collapse of the world before 2012 is not for him to say, he says. All he knows is that the upsurge of militarism and terrorism -- as well as an increase in coincidences in his own life -- presage a time when spirit and matter will converge into one. We will then be released from the occult power of the Gregorian calendar, which is keeping us out of synchronicity with our psychic powers. We will receive the powers of telepathy and get to speak to our alien neighbors, not necessarily by mounting spaceships but through psychic evolution.

It's not that the planet's not in dire trouble; one need only look at the newspaper for ample evidence of that. And it's not that "psychedelic" or "entheogenic" substances might not help provide us with new ways of thinking that might, just might, help; used properly, there's no question that these are powerful tools of transformation.

But supernaturalism is no answer; Quetzalcoatl is as unlikely to pull us out of this as Jesus, Mohammed, Eris, Krishna, or the Great Sky Goat. We need new ways of thinking, not new superstitions.