So I have been thinking a lot about Terrance McKenna’s Timewave Zero Theory regarding information and novelty and its correspondence to the 2012 phenomenon.
For those unfamiliar, Terrence was a pioneer into the use of entheogens in our modern society. As an ethnobotanist turned mystic he taught about the origins of consciousness. He wrote of the Gaian mind, parallel dimensions, space faring mushroom spores, stoned apes leading to human evolution, and machine elf entities. He was enamored with the internet and technology as an aid in our evolution though I really wonder what he would say about social media and it’s ego enforcing patterns, as he was an advocate of psychedelics in heroic doses as “slaying” the sense of ego self to truly receive and understand the profound spiritual message of the trip.
His timewave theory was one on the fractal nature of time and space leading to patterns that he said was inherent in the hexagrams of the I-Ching and paralleled the Mayan Calendar. As time progressed, there was more novelty or newness, leading to more complexity, forming more and more complex patterns as information doubled again and again until an end, or zero point is reached. He aligned it with December 21, 2012. There was even a computer programming mapping it all out visually.
While that might seem hopelessly New Age, a term he did not embrace in favor of his concept of the Archaic Revival which is not so far from the highest ideals of the New Age teachings minus its commercialism, something he inadvertently contributed to in the popularity of the 2012 mythos, McKenna essential proposed modern society was sick. His Archaic Revival was a description of the shamanic sickness healing process we are undergoing collectively, a concept I wholeheartedly agree with still. We are in the healing crisis. The question is will we do the work and what will we look like collectively on the other side.
Those of us with naive hopes of what it would mean for the world, myself included, have been disappointed so far. Perhaps we need more time. I think of those in the 1960’s Summer of Love and how the world did not veer towards their idealistic vision of utopia. How must they feel? I am a Utopiast at heart, I carry the ideal that the ideal is never reached. Utopia is a process to strive for, not a final goal.
While I love the end of The Invisibles, a comic book spell deeply influenced by McKenna’s Timewave idea, written by the chaos magician Grant Morrison, who is a profound influence upon me, I didn’t necessarily think it meant the collapse of space and time in a cosmic eschaton, a true zero point, but I did hope for a major shift on individual and collective consciousness. I have read the critiques of McKenna himself, of the Timewave theory, the adaptation of the numbers and history and even the theory that he did not actually believe it. What I think of the Timewave theory, and all of his inspired work, are more magickal theories of consciousness, a poetic mythos, than one of physics, biology or anthropology. I find such magickal theories stimulating in understanding the movement of consciousness and know they won’t fit physics in our current understanding of things. But such mythic ideas help us think about the hows and whys of human existence.
The more that I think about the world, particularly in watching social media, and how information in terms of media increases by volume, but novelty, not so much, as we seem the same cut-and-paste troupes, the homemade commercials as entertainment or education, and I wonder if it did signal a shift, just not the shift I was hoping to see. Have we plateaued and very little true novelty is happening? A depressing thought if so, and I can’t quite believe that even when I see so much to corroborate it.
McKenna said, “So, I think it’s just going to get weirder and weirder, and weirder, and finally it’s going to be so weird that people are going to have to talk about how weird it is.” It’s gotten pretty weird I must say.
I wonder upon new aeonic cycles, new astrological alignments and what such potentials hold for the future consciousness of planet Earth. Is there a repetition or inverse wave of Timewave Zero? Was the date wrong and we are still building towards the peak? Or the zero? It doesn’t feel like that anymore… I don’t feel like we are moving towards something hopeful for a shift. The performative, repetitive and derivative nature of social sharing for attention feels stagnant, not leading to novelty or some form of breakthrough. Perhaps there are novel discoveries happening unannounced or soon to be announced. I hope so. Pluto is in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus. Both herald a time for innovative ideas and big changes. I will say there is a plethora of genuine creativity, but novelty seems swallowed by the sheer volume of information and releases, a needle in a haystack.
He also shares, “Ah, so the good news is, that as primates we are incredibly adaptable to change. Put us in the desert, we survive, put us in the jungle, we survive, under Hitler we survive, under Nixon we survive. We can put up with anything and it’s a good thing because we are going to be tested to the limits. The breakdown of anything—and this is why the rightwing is so alarmed—because what they see going on is the breakdown of all tradition, all order, all sanctioned norms of behavior. And they’re quite right that it’s happening, but they’re quite wrong to conclude that it should be resisted or is somehow evil. The mushroom said to me once, it said: “This is what it’s like when a species prepares to depart for the stars.” You don’t depart for the stars under calm and orderly conditions; it’s a fire in a madhouse, and that’s what we have, the fire in the madhouse at the end of time. This is what it’s like when a species prepares to move on to the next dimension. The entire destiny of all life on the planet is tied up in this; we are not acting for ourselves, or from ourselves; we happen to be the point species on a transformation that will affect every living organism on this planet at its conclusion.”
He speaks of “fire in the madhouse” and it certainly feels like it more and more over the last decades, but in different ways, I am sure many society’s feel this way during times of great change. Sadly they didn’t necessarily shift as far as we know but entered into decline and decay. Yet none we know of were in a state of conscious global connection as we are today. Could that be a key difference? Yet our technologies that affect the globe could also be our undoing between climate crisis and misinformation.
I’m not one for “departing to the stars” as I think that might be from McKenna’s own panspermia mythos of the origin of fungi from space. I’m more a stars upon and within the Earth kind of mythos, but the hope of the stars, the Star as Aquarian Goddess, in whatever form, is still my guide. Hope is the key virtue of the star I follow, so I hold hope.
For those looking for more, any of McKenna’s books and recordings, many interviews free online, will take you deeper in the rabbit hole. The Archaic Revival is a deep overview of many of his ideas.
I’d also suggest reading the work of Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger trilogy.
I enjoyed The Nine Waves of Creation: Quantum Physics, Holographic Evolution, and the Destiny of Humanity and The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness, both by Carl Johan Calleman
Those looking for something a little more relatable and less cosmic I highly recommend Jo Graham’s The Great Wheel. It’s not a Wheel of the Year book, as you might think, but on the 80 year societal cycle first articulated by the Etruscans.
Lastly the book Yugas: Keys to Understanding Man’s Hidden Past, Emerging Present and Future Enlightenment by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz gives me some long term hope and inspiration.