So here we are. We've made it to 2012 and I doubt that anyone can have failed to pick up on the millenarian prophecies for the year. Mayan calendars, fractal timewaves and astronomical alignments all point to a major shift occurring on December 21st. What, exactly, that shift will be remains unclear. Perhaps it will be a radical new form of human consciousness. Perhaps mind will finally extricate itself from matter. Time might collapse or maybe the aliens will finally step out from the shadows and usher us into the galactic citizenship we always knew was out there.
Anyone who's read Shroom will know that - how can I put this? - I'm yet to be convinced by 2012. Indeed, I recently wrote a chapter on the subject for the forthcoming book from David Luke's excellent Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness lecture series. It's not that I wouldn't welcome any of those predicted changes - I like sci-fi remember - it's just that it all smacks of Christian millennarianism to me. I find that way of thinking...unhelpful.
It is, of course, a great shame that the two architects of 2012, psychedelic guru Terence McKenna and hotline to the 'Galactic Maya' José Argüelles have both left the building and so won't be there for the great reckoning (though it's probably good prophetic practice to place the end of the world beyond your allotted three score years and ten). McKenna did have the good grace to admit he could very well be wrong, something that sets him apart from his erstwhile, and frankly loopy, partner in time.
But, of course, we should never underestimate the power of the human imagination. If enough people think that something extraordinary is going to happen then perhaps that will set something extraordinary in motion (God knows, we need it). And if all this talk about psychedelics raises their profile again and gets people thinking about them in a more critical way then that can only be a good thing. Perhaps we should harness the power of the zeitgeist and declare 2012 the Year of the Psychedelic. It can't hurt.
On the subject of which, take a look at this latest piece of research by Robin Cahart-Harris, who gave psilocybin to volunteers and looked at their brains using an fMRI scanner. It seems that what psilocybin does is reduce activity in certain parts of the brain, so perhaps Huxley was right after all?
To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system...Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of delibrate 'spiritual exercises', or though hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Aldous Huxley The Doors of Perception 1954: 12.