The most comprehensive guide to the botany, history, distribution, and cultivation of all known psychoactive plants
• Examines 414 psychoactive plants and related substances
• Explores how using psychoactive plants in a culturally sanctioned context can produce important insights into the nature of reality
• Contains 797 color photographs and 645 black-and-white illustrations
In the traditions of every culture, plants have been highly valued for their nourishing, healing, and transformative properties. The most powerful plants–those known to transport the human mind into other dimensions of consciousness–have traditionally been regarded as sacred. In The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants Christian R?ch details the botany, history, distribution, cultivation, and preparation and dosage of more than 400 psychoactive plants. He discusses their ritual and medicinal usage, cultural artifacts made from these plants, and works of art that either represent or have been inspired by them. The author begins with 168 of the most well-known psychoactives–such as cannabis, datura, and papaver–then presents 133 lesser known substances as well as additional plants known as “legal highs,” plants known only from mythological contexts and literature, and plant products that include substances such as ayahuasca, incense, and soma. The text is lavishly illustrated with 797 color photographs–many of which are from the author’s extensive fieldwork around the world–showing the people, ceremonies, and art related to the ritual use of the world’s sacred psychoactives.
At over 7 pounds, this book is packed with information! The first 700 pages of it are individual profiles of a wide range of psychoactive plants and fungi–including info on their active constituents, history, usage, and cultivation. The remainder of the book is broken into two sections, one describing major classes of chemicals, and the other focused on plant mixtures and legendary compounds like soma. This is primarily a reference work, but it’s more entertaining and comprehensive than Ott’s Pharmacotheon.
It’s only major flaw is failing as an effective identification guide. All of the images are small, about 2″ x 2″ and relegated to the margins. While peppered with Ratsch’s own photos which are unavailable elsewhere, there are few botanical illustrations other than some of the commonly seen historical woodcuts.
Ratsch chooses to give us a comprehensive view of the information available rather than leaning towards practical application. Plants like monkshood and Datura are mentioned as dangerous only in passing. Dosage guidelines in general are rather vague. Heimia salicifolia and puffball mushrooms are included based on their rumored effectiveness–along with research that contradicts it. He typically presents all the evidence and leaves it up to the reader to make their own educated decisions.
Ratsch does a superb job collating all the data currently available from various sources and adds to it his own research and insights. And unlike most other books on entheogens, he also covers stimulant and sedative plants and even some of the less psychoactive herbals. In spite of it’s lack of illustrations, if you buy one reference on psychoactive plants this is the book you’ll want.
This is an unprecedentedly massive reference work centering on visionary plants. It’s an order of magnitude larger than previous comprehensive entheogen reference works such as the High Times Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs, Hofmann’s Plants of the Gods, Ott’s Pharmacotheon, and Stafford’s Psychedelics Encyclopedia.
This review will be short and to the point. There is no greater single book on psychoactive plants than this book. Ratsch has done an amazing job. His book is mind-bogglingly thorough and exhaustive. It beats “Pharmacotheon” (Ott), “Plants of the Gods” (Ratch, Hofmann and Schultes) or any other book I have ever seen that attempts to be a complete source of information of psychoactive plants. I have been waiting for a book like this for years. I don’t think this book could possibly be out-done for decades. At best, we can only hope to see books that would be something like supplimentary information in comparison to this book.
If you want all of the information on psychoactive plants that you can possibly get in one book, this is the one and it is definately worth the admittedly huge price tag. I would not be surprised if this book will be sold for many hundreds of dollars if and when it is sold out. Let’s hope it is reprinted for a long, long time.
Product Details :
- Hardcover: 944 pages
- Publisher: Park Street Press (April 25, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0892819782
- ISBN-13: 978-0892819782
- Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 9 x 11.3 inches