On Our Shelves Now
World-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist Christian Ratsch provides the latest scientific updates to this classic work on psychoactive flora by two eminent researchers.
• Numerous new and rare color photographs complement the completely revised and updated text.
• Explores the uses of hallucinogenic plants in shamanic rituals throughout the world.
• Cross-referenced by plant, illness, preparation, season of collection, and chemical constituents.
Three scientific titans join forces to completely revise the classic text on the ritual uses of psychoactive plants. They provide a fascinating testimony of these "plants of the gods," tracing their uses throughout the world and their significance in shaping culture and history. In the traditions of every culture, plants have been highly valued for their nourishing, healing, and transformative properties. The most powerful of those plants, which are known to transport the human mind into other dimensions of consciousness, have always been regarded as sacred. The authors detail the uses of hallucinogens in sacred shamanic rites while providing lucid explanations of the biochemistry of these plants and the cultural prayers, songs, and dances associated with them. The text is lavishly illustrated with 400 rare photographs of plants, people, ceremonies, and art related to the ritual use of the world's sacred psychoactive flora.
About the Author
Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001) was a Jeffrey Professor of Biology and Director of the Botanical Museum at Harvard University, considered by many to be the father of modern ethnobotany.
Albert Hofmann (1906-2008), the father of LSD, was a world-renowned scientist, member of the Nobel Prize Committee, Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences, and member of the International Society of Plant Research and of the American Society of Pharmacognosy. He was a leader in pharmaceutical-chemical research and the author of several books, including LSD: My Problem Child.
Christian Rätsch, Ph.D. (1957 – 2022), was a world-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist who specialized in the shamanic uses of plants for spiritual as well as medicinal purposes. He studied Mesoamerican languages and cultures and anthropology at the University of Hamburg and spent, altogether, three years of fieldwork among the Lacandone Indians in Chiapas, Mexico, being the only European fluent in their language. He then received a fellowship from the German academic service for foreign research, the Deutsche Akademische Auslandsdienst (DAAD), to realize his doctoral thesis on healing spells and incantations of the Lacandone-Maya at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
In addition to his work in Mexico, his numerous fieldworks have included research in Thailand, Bali, the Seychelles, as well as a long-term study (18 years) on shamanism in Nepal combined with expeditions to Korea and the Peruvian and Colombian Amazon. He also was a scientific anthropological advisor for expeditions organized by German magazines such as GEO and Spektrum der Wissenschaften (Spectrum of Sciences).
Before becoming a full-time author and internationally renowned lecturer, Rätsch worked as professor of anthropology at the University of Bremen and served as consultant advisor for many German museums. Because of his extensive collection of shells, fossils, artifacts, and entheopharmacological items, he had numerous museum expositions on these topics.
He is the author of numerous articles and more than 40 books, including Plants of Love, Gateway to Inner Space, Marijuana Medicine, The Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants, and The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. He is also coauthor of Plants of the Gods, Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas, Witchcraft Medicine, Pagan Christmas, and The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs and was editor of the Yearbook of Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness. A former member of the board of advisors of the European College for the Study of Consciousness (ECSC) and former president of the Association of Ethnomedicine, he lived in Hamburg, Germany.
"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
"Carefully researched, beautifully written, and abundantly illustrated, this book reminds us that the use of hallucinogenic plants has been a fundamental part of the human experience for millennia."
— Michael R. Aldrich, Ph.D., Curator Fitz Hugh Ludlow Library
"It contains an incredible amount of rigorous and fascinating information in a highly accessible, beautiful, and compelling format."
— Journal of Scientific Exploration, October 2003
"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