End-of-the-world paranoia has been with us since time immemorial. Now, with the end of the legendary Mayan “long count” calendar looming on December 21, 2012 and recent threats of a worldwide economic collapse triggering widespread apprehension and a search for answers, The Cracking Tower offers an arsenal of strategies to turn these fears into an opportunity for spiritual and personal growth.

Beginning with a lively memoir of the author’s experiences in the ’60s, the book goes on to explore apocalyptic thinking through perennial philosophy, shamanism, gnostic mysticism, the body as a vessel of consciousness (and death as “an extended out-of-body experience”), and psychedelics. Shaping the discussion is the fascinating metaphor of the cracking tower, an apparatus for distilling gasoline, as a vehicle for distilling our awareness. Rather than speculating on what might occur in 2012, DeKorne proposes vigilance of a more introspective sort. “The important thing,” he says, “is to ignore the finger and strive to comprehend the moon,” to see what our apocalyptic tendencies reveal about ourselves.