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The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants (Anglais) Relié – 25 avril 2005


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Introduction

"The peculiar, mysterious longing and desire for stimulants that is common to almost all peoples has always prevailed, to the extent that we are aware of historical traditions, and has been satisfied in the most varied of ways. Inducing a happy mood m which emotions, sorrows, and everything else that may weigh upon the soul can be forgotten; shifting into a state of partial or completely absent consciousness in which the individual, detached from the present, surrounded by the glowing and shining images of an excessively amplified imagination, becomes free from the misery of his every day life or from bodily pains; artificially inducing peace and sleep for the fatigued body and mind in all cases where these necessary requirements for life cannot he brought about in the normal manner, and finally gaining creative strength, both physical and mental, by means of these stimulants--these are the primary reasons why these agents are used."
--Louis Lewin, Über Piper Methysticum (Berlin 1885: 1)

Every day, most persons in most cultures, whether Amazonian Indians or Western Europeans, ingest the products of one or more psychoactive plants. Even the Mormons, who claim that they do not use "drugs," have a psychoactive stimulant: Mormon tea (Ephedra nevadensis), which contains the very potent alkaloid ephedrine, the model substance for amphetamine.

The use of psychoactive substances is extraordinarily common in the countries of South America. After rising, a typical Amazonian Indian will drink guaraná, cacao, or mate (and sometimes all three together). After breakfast, he will place the first pinch of coca in his mouth, where, periodically renewed, it will remain until evening. In the afternoon, he will shift to a fermented beverage made of maize or manioc. In late afternoon, some powder that contains tryptamines may be snuffed into the nose. Ayahuasca is often used in the evening. It goes without saying that every free minute is filled with the smoking, chewing, sniffing, or licking of tobacco.

In the modern Western world, the use of psychoactive plant products is very widespread, but their sacredness has been profaned. How many of us today, when we are sipping our morning coffee, are aware that the Sufis venerated the coffee bush as a plant of the gods and interpreted the stimulating effects of caffeine as a sign of God's favor? Who of us, lying in bed and smoking the first cigarette of the day, knows that tobacco is regarded as a gift of the gods that aids shamans in journeying into other realities? How many recall the frenzied Bacchanalias in honor of Dionysus as they drink a glass of wine with their lunch? And the evening beer in front of the television is downed without any knowledge of the sacred origin of this barley drink. Our ancestors, however, the Germanic peoples and the Celts, knew this, and they venerated such drinks and immortalized them in their poetry:

It is certain that the Celts knew of alcohol. The Greek and Roman authors of antiquity regarded them as passionate lovers of inebriating beverages. Drunkenness is a common theme in the epics, especially in Ireland. Gods and heroes competed with one another in their sheer unquenchable thirst for alcohol, whether in the form of wine, beet, or hydromel, the Celtic mead we still remember today. No religious festival was celebrated without an uninhibited drinking bout, a tradition which survives in our time in the form of (supposedly) folk customs. The most important aspect of such rituals is the lifting off, the unleashing, by means of which one forgets that man is an earthbound being. (Markale, 1989: 203)

Indeed, it is this lifting off, this fact of getting "high," the unleashing, the ecstasy, that is at the heart of the use of psychoactive plants and psychoactive products. During my extended field work journeys to the various continents, I have seen time and again how people in all cultures, and of all social strata, religions, and skin colors, consume psychoactive plants and psychoactive products. Why do people ingest psychoactive substances? Because a fundamental drive for inebriation, ecstasy, blissful sleep, knowledge, and enlightenment is written tight into our genes.

This encyclopedia is a testimony to the wealth of knowledge that humans have acquired about these substances. It represents the results of twenty years of my own research and experience compiled into one work. I have collected information all over the world, assembled a large and specialized library, attended countless meetings and symposia, photographed my way through the plant world, and experimented with as many psychoactive plants as I could. The knowledge I have gained has now been distilled and organized into this encyclopedia so that we too--like our ancestors--may learn to once again recognize the sacred nature of inebriants and utilize these to have profound experiences of the sacredness of nature.
. . . .

The Use of Psychoactive Plants

Humans have a natural drive to pursue ecstatic experiences (Well, 1976; Siegel 1995). The experience of ecstasy is just as much a part of being human and leading a fulfilling and happy life as is the experience of orgasm. In fact, many cultures use the same words to refer to ecstasy and to orgasm. The possibility of having ecstatic experiences is one of the fundamental conditions of human consciousness. All archaic and ethnographic cultures developed methods for inducing such experiences (Bourguignon, 1973; Dittrich, 1996). Some of these methods are more efficacious than others. The most effective method of all is to ingest psychoactive plants or substances.

These methods, however, require certain skills, for there are many factors that play a role in shaping the effects and the contents of the experiences. The most important is proper use--that is, a responsible and goal-oriented use.

Revue de presse

“. . . this superb academic reference is the first comprehensive work devoted to psychoactive plants. Ratsch, an anthropologist, ethnopharmacologist, . . . includes more than 400 traditional and modern substances that ‘affect the mind or alter the state of consciousness’. . . .Each major monograph contains the plant’s scientific and common names, chemical structure, history, distribution, cultivation, appearance, preparation and dosage, ritual and medicinal uses, commercial forms and regulations, and effects, as well as research literature references. . . .This book offers something for everyone. . . . Highly recommended.” (Andy Wickens, Library Journal, August 2005)

“Rätsch’s Encyclopedia is massive in scope, exhaustively researched, heavily referenced, user-friendly, authoritative, and beautifully illustrated. It belongs on the bookshelf of everyone with an interest in psychoactive plants--from those with only a casual interest to veteran researchers.” (Rick Strassman, M.D., University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and author of DMT: The Spirit Mol)

“It is a truism in anthropology that virtually all cultures utilize plants and mushrooms for their psychoactive effects. The impulse to achieve altered states of consciousness is universal. Several previous books on psychoactive plants have become classics on this subject. While valuable historic additions to the library, they must now move over. This encyclopedia is truly destined to be the most authoritative reference on natural psychoactive substances for years to come.” (Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, and editor of Her)

“In the realm of psychoactive plants, Christian Rätsch is the world’s most knowledgeable person. Here is his magnum opus--a veritable treasure trove of information about the most fascinating members of the plant kingdom. As the “teachers” and the gatekeepers to the spirit world, psychoactives help us cleanse the lenses of perception. No one interested in natural ways to expand consciousness should be without this magnificent volume.” (Ralph Metzner, PH.D., psychologist, author of Green Psychology, and coauthor of The Psychedelic Expe)

“Christian Rätsch’s remarkable Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants is an essential and comprehensive work that explores not only the expanse of plants that affect human consciousness but the genetic necessity for humanity to experience wide-ranging flexibility in consciousness. The plant world is basic to us, the foundation of our food, clothing, and shelter. But Christian’s book reminds us that human/plant interactions reach much deeper than these three needs; plant intelligence reaches deep within us and teaches us to see, hear, and understand the deep meanings in the world, meanings that we need, and are meant, to encounter in order to remain human.” (Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of The Secret Teachings of Plants and The Lost Language of Plants)

". . . the granddaddy of all drug books." (Charles Hayes, High Times, Nov 2005)

"A premier work, and important to have and refer to if you have any relationship to the world of psychoactive plants." (Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, April 2006)

"This encyclopedia is a large and somewhat intimidating book, but the format is friendly and embellished by many beautiful photographs and drawings. . . . this is a major work that will be an essential reference to those interested in cultural and historical aspects of psychedelics." (Herbalgram, No. 79, Aug - Oct 2008)

“This book covers pretty much every psychedelic/psychoactive plant out there, including several that people may not realize have psychoactive properties...For anyone interested in learning more about psychoactive plants this book will likely answer all your questions and more. It's a great complement to other books on the subject as well as a stand-alone book for your education on this expansive and important topic.” (Entheoradio, August 2013)



Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 944 pages
  • Editeur : Park Street Press (25 avril 2005)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0892819782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892819782
  • Dimensions du produit: 21,6 x 4,8 x 27,9 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.8 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 17.623 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par BR de Véranne le 21 février 2009
Format: Relié
Peut être l'ouvrage le plus complet sur ces plantes médecines ou plantes de pouvoir utilisées en chamanisme avec leurs propriétés traditionnelles et leur composition chimique expliquant leur action psychotrope; Un Must.
BRdmiard
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Tara le 23 juin 2011
Format: Relié
Bouquin vraiment intéressant! Un des plus complet que je connaisse à mon actif!
Dommage qu'il soit en anglais, faudrait qu'il soit traduit absolument pour qu'il soit accessible au monde francophone !
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par C. Caillaud le 9 juillet 2010
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Le livre le plus complet pour les passionnés de plantes ethnobotaniques dommage qu'il n'existe pas de livre équivalent en français.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Piattelli David le 17 août 2008
Format: Relié
avec les plantes des dieux, c'est le livre à avoir si on aime l'"ethnobotanie". Seul hic, il est en anglais
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 74 commentaires
97 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A comprehensive reference guide to psychoactive plants 26 mai 2005
Par Rob-cubed - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
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.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Takes the lead by far for entheogen reference compendiums 13 août 2005
Par Michael Hoffman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Best Book Ever Made on Psychoactive Plants 22 janvier 2007
Par Justin Case - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
better than the internet for info 12 février 2012
Par Max Power - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Have you ever tried looking for info on natural drugs on the internet? It is nearly impossible to find information on a rarely touched topic. Sites like erowid and wikipedia attempt to touch the topic, but they rely mostly on user feedback which can often be very questionable, sometimes flat out urban legend. The number of pictures in the book is astonishing, probably 2 per page for 900 pages.

One plant can include family, forms and subspecies, synonyms, folk names, history, topographical distribution of the plant, cultivation, appearance, sometimes preparation and dosage, ritual use, artifacts, medicinal use, constituents/alkaloids responsible for effects, effects of the alkaloids, commercial forms and regulations, and references to related literature in addition to a small picture or two, and a picture of alkaloid molecular structure.

It covers everything to devoting 17 pages to peyote, 6 pages to coffee, 4 pages to camphor (found in lip protectant and vicks vapor rub), to 2 pages on the blue lotus flower. One thing missing is lethal doses of these things, even with peyote which has a officially established lethal dose of mescalin that is lab researched. So if you plan on using this book as a complete personal reference guide for personal use or cultivation, you will need additional material. It focuses more on culture, history, natural habitat, and traditional ritual uses.. which I think is what makes the book so good. It is like an art book. Each plant a painting. Well put together, well researched, and well thought out, with a truly massive amount of information.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A MUST for any herbalist and/or ethnobotanist 19 janvier 2008
Par Melissa - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I am a Certified Master Herbalist always seeking information in my field. To earn my degree and satisfy my personal quest for knowledge I've read over 100 books concerning the modern and historical use of herbs. This book is pure gold, not only for its pharmaceutical information, but for the historical and spiritual knowledge/wisdom it imparts. This is a book for any herbalist seeking to understand the history of their craft. READ THIS BOOK!!!!
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