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Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use Hardcover – January 1, 1979

4.8 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A truly exellent book. -- Journal of Ethnobiology

An extraordinary blend of botany, ethnobotany, chemistry, history, mythology, and art. A visual, spiritual, and intellectual feast, Plants of the Gods is the best book ever written on hallucinogenic plants and it was written by the two most knowledgeable people on the planet. -- Dr. Mark Plotkin, Conservation International

Richard Evans Schultes has been the nexus of almost everything interesting and supportive concerned with economic and cultural uses of plants. Plants of the Gods gives precise and illuminating portraits of the many peoples of the Earth who pay homage to and gain insights with the aid of psychedelic plants: an exquisite, thoroughly scholarly book. -- Whole Earth Review

This superbly illustrated, encyclopedic volume provides a much needed, well-balanced scientific perspective on the use of hallucinogenic plants. Richard Evans Schultes, the worlds most eminent ethnobotanist, and Albert Hofmann, the former research director at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, emphasize the need for continued education about both the potential benefits and the inherent dangers involved in the use of hallucinogens. -- Shaman's Drum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Evans Schultes is a Jeffrey Professor of Biology and Director of the Botanical Museum at Harvard University (Emeritus). In recognition of forty years of field studies in Amazonian ethnobotany, he was awarded Britain's annual Gold Medal of the World Wildlife Fund by Prince Philip.

Dr. Albert Hofmann, discoverer of LSD, is the retired director of the Pharmaceutical-Chemical Research Laboratories of Sandoz, Ltd., in Basel, Switzerland. He has synthesized or isolated numerous psychoactive alkaloids, contributing immensely to biochemical studies. A member of several prestigious academic organizations, he has been elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1st edition (January 1, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091416000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091416003
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,868,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on October 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Plants Of The Gods is a comprehensive reference work on psychoactive plants. It provides a definition of plant hallucinogens and information on phytochemical research on sacred plants, geography of usage and botanical range, the chemical structures of these substances and the use of hallucinogens in medicine.
The plant species discussed include the Amanita (Fly Agaric) mushroom, Atropa (Deadly Nightshade), Yellow and Black Henbane, Mandrake, Cannabis Ergot, Datura, Iboga, Yopo beans, Ayahuasca, Yage, Brugmansia, Peyote, the San Pedro cactus, the Morning Glory plus what the authors term "the little flowers of the gods" which include the various types of Psilocybe mushroom.
The text is enhanced by a wonderful variety of color and black & white photographs, illustrations and quite impressive paintings. The section Overview Of Plant Use consists of tables listing every plant's common name, botanical name, historical ethnography, context and purpose of usage, preparation and the chemical composition and effects.
Plants Of The Gods is a great and detailed investigation of entheogenic plants from around the world. This valuable reference book concludes with a bibliography and index.
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There are plenty of books scientific (or otherwise) on the actions of hallucinogenic plants (from every possible viewpoint). What sets this book apart is providing a sound description of the chemical properties of plants together with the spiritual context in which they are used.

It isn't packed with biochemical formulae, but at the same time has enough information on active ingredients to provide a starting point for understanding and further research (if desired). For those interested in biochemical properties of plants CRC Press publish a range of comprehensive but expensive guides.

The author also provides a cultural context, describing how the plants are/were used by societies both past and present during religious rights. Folklore is also very well covered (my main interest with this book - as an aside there is little of culinary interest within text).

The pictures of plants (and people) are superb. There are also some fascinating diagrams (world map showing indigenous hallucinogens), and a pictures showing illustrating the role of hallucinogens on aboriginal and western art.

The writing style makes this work much more accessible and enjoyable to read than other texts. The text is supported by excellent illustrations. Plants of the Gods is in a class of it's own.
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Format: Paperback
Plants of the Gods is a condensed ethnobotanical encyclopedia of hallucinogenic drugs with nicely illustrated cultural/art/chemical information . This book illustrates why these psychoactive plants have been so important, nay, a necessity of primordial human consciousness and experience because of their medicinal, teleportal, and communicative capabilities. It even includes a beautifully annotated color-picture field guide lexicon. It begins with a history of plant hallucinogens and then explores their cremonial/ritualistic use in various cultures around the world, creating a sense of their cultural AND artistic importance in other societies that ACTUALLY RESPECT and don't abuse them. Plants of the Gods leaves you with a sense of respect for these plants when you realize that smoking pot in some basement just to break rules is like a rites of passage sacrament practiced by many tribal cultures who know the importance of this experience which we seem to have neglected and even outlawed. Thoroughly descriptive, yet easily digestible,it reads more as a quick refrence guide /bedtime story than a book-"book", but is captivating and informatively engaging at the same time.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a great resourse for people interested in ethnobotanicals. The illustrations are excellent. The reference to the cultural context in which these plants are used helps the reader understand a bit more about how these plants are used but not abused. There is one error I noted. The captions denoting the structures for iso-LSD and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamine should be interchanged.
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Format: Paperback
Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers
by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, and Christian Rätsch

Publisher:Healing Arts Press/Inner Traditions

Year:2001 (revised and expanded edition)

ISBN:089281979-0

Categories:Book Reviews, Recommended Books

Reviewed by Jon Hanna, 6/26/2007

It may be a rare thing for a second edition of a book to warrant its own review, but such is definitely the case with the new edition of the Schultes' and Hofmann's 1979 classic Plants of the Gods. The updated version was produced as a German translation in 1998 by Christian Rätsch, and Healing Arts Press released the English translation of this in late 2001. It is a thing of beauty.

The primary and most dramatic improvement is the inclusion of numerous new photographs and art images. Although this second edition retains many of the same photos, it introduces a lot of new ones as well. In some cases, the item depicted-such as the statue of Shiva with Datura flowers in his hair (p. 11)-has been revisited with a higher-quality photo. Frequently, black and white images have been replaced with a similar image in stunning full-color. While this works superbly in most cases, there are a few situations-such as the replacement color photo of an aerial view of the Kuluene river (p. 24)-where the original black and white photo was much better. New psychedelic art is featured throughout from the likes of Pablo Amaringo, Walangari Karntawarra Jakamarra, Nana Nauwald, and Donna Torres. There are even some incredible watercolor paintings done by Christian Rätsch himself (think Codex Seraphinianus on acid)-where can we see more of his art!?
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