From the Newsletter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
MAPS - Volume 8 Number 3 Autumn 1998 - pp. 45-47


Non-Anglo Entheography:
Mini-Reviews of Non-English Publications, III

Jonathan Ott


IN a continuing effort to alert would-be translators, publishers and readers to noteworthy non-English publications on the subject of shamanic inebriants, we present here the third installment of mini-reviews of recent titles which Jonathan Ott thinks are especially valuable or interesting. Where possible, book prices and all salient ordering information are included, to facilitate direct and expeditious acquisition.

Spanish originals

Al Trasluz de la Ayahuasca: Antropología Cognitiva, Oniromancia y Consciencias Alternativas
[Ayahuasca Translucent: Cognitive Anthroplogy, Oneiromancy and Alternative Consciousness]

Josep Maria Fericgla, 1997. Los Libros de la Liebre de Marzo [Apartado de Correos 2215, Barcelona 08080, Spain, Ptas. 2000]. Paperback; ISBN 84-87403-30-1; 151 pp., no index, 4 pp. bibliography of 78 sources; 20 b/w photos. Catalán ethnographer Fericgla here summarizes his research on ayahuasca among the Shuar (Jívaro) of Ecuador, previously covered in his book The Jívaro: Hunters of Dreams [Catalán original, translated into Spanish], a diary of his field work in 1992-93. There is an introductory chapter on methodology, followed by a survey of the ethnography of ayahuasca and notes on its entheogenic properties. The most detailed section of the book is a study of oneiromancy/dream-analysis among the Shuar, compared and contrasted with its analogues in psychoanalysis. There follows "Ethnopsychiatry and Entheogens," based on survey data from 113 Shuar informants, commencing with graphic analysis of ages and sexes of users, and consumption or not of the solanaceous shamanic inebriant Brugmansia spp. A useful and interesting final chapter summarizes "Contemporary Ethnographic Status of the Shuar Peoples" and is preceded by "Culture, Theory and Applications of the Imagery Generated by Ayahuasca." Herein Fericgla theorizes in the realm of what he calls "cognitive anthropology" and expands on previous conceptualizations of entheogens as non- specific adaptogens, again showing a penchant for skating on this ice, by linking his theories to a controversial notion rejected by many (if not most) pharmacologists. While some might question Fericgla's scientific judgement, none will accuse him of lack of boldness, and perhaps some fruitful debate will result from this attempted synthesis of psychanalysis and anthropology, in the tradition of Weston La Barre's The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion. Personally, I would have much preferred more hard data and less airy speculation.

Los Nombres de los Hongos y lo Relacionado con Ellos en América Latina
[Names of Mushrooms and Related Things in Latin America]

Gastón Guzmán, 1997. Instituto de Ecología [Apartado Postal 63; Xalapa, Veracruz 91000, Mexico, Pesos 200.00/$30.00 (paper); Pesos 300.00/$50.00 (cloth), all postpaid]. ISBN 968-786306-4 (apparently same ISBN for both editions); 356 pp., no index; 24 pp. bibliography of 486 sources; numerous photos and illustrations. Guzmán, who participated in the modern "rediscovery" of the psilocybian mushrooms, as field assistant to Rolf Singer in 1957, and subsequently became the leading authority on the taxonomy of Psilocybe, monographing the genus, here continues his ethnomycological research by assembling a valuable dictionary of Latin American mushroomic names. In all, some 5,500 names are listed alphabetically, covering roughly 1,750 species. Guzmán is to be commended for this painstaking assemblage of so much information of interest to mycologist, ethnobotanists, anthropologists, agronomists and linguists -- a true bargain, highly recommended!

Alucinógenos: La Experiencia Psicodélica
[Hallucinogens: The Pschodelic Experience]

Luis San, Miguel Gutiérrez and Miguel Casas, Eds., 1996. Ediciones en Neurociencias [Numancia, 207; Barcelona 08034, Spain; Ptas. 3360]. Hardcover ISBN 84-88648-41-6; 255 pp.; 7 pp. index; bibliographies and figures. This is an anthology of 15 papers on the "psychodelic experience," the title orthography reflecting a psychiatric focus -- nine of the papers deal with therapeutic aspects of psychoptic compounds, six of these with their purported role as "psychotomimetics" or exacerbatory agents in psychosis; and two with medico- judicial aspects of prevention of illicit use. A useful introductory review of visionary pharmacology is accompanied by an interesting therapeutic history of LSD and an historical review of Mediterranean entheogens; and there are papers on the pharmacology of ayahuasca, PCP and artificial amphetamine-like compounds, as well as psilocybin. Enteoaficionados will perhaps be put-off by reviews of the largely-discredited notion of drug-induced "model psychoses" or "toxic psychoses," particularly the purported existence of animal models of such; by the dicussion of cannabinoids as "psychotomimetics" and of cannabis consumption as a factor in "evolution of schizophrenia;" not to mention chapter on "hallucinogens and schizophrenia" and "mescaline, psilocybin and LSD as inducers of experimental psychoses" -- not to forget the chapters on prevention of illicit traffic in such substances. Nevertheless, this book also contains many useful data on entheobotany and the history of entheopsychiatry.

German originals and non-English translation

Psychoaktive Pflanzen
[Psychoactive Plants]

Bert Marco Schuldes, 1997 [2nd. improved and enlarged edition]. Medienxperimente [Alte Schmiede; D-69488 Löhrbach, Germany] and Nachtschatten Verlag [Ritter Quai 2–4; CH-4502 Solothurn, Switzerland; DM15, SFR17, ÖS130]. Paperback; ISBN 3–925817–64–6; 126 pp.; 4 pp. index; 2 pp. bibliography of 52 items; b/w cover drawing repeated on decorative end-papers. A total of 73 categories of psychoactive plants are covered in this book, listed in alphabetical order of their scientific names, with subsections for each giving: use information; active principles; effects; side-effects; 'peculiarities'; commercial sources and 'other' [references to other parts of the book; useful tips for users; ethnobotanical minutiæ, etc.]. This clear, straight- forward and logical presentation makes all these data readily accessible, especially given the useful, 4 pp. index [unfortunately, there are many -- 8 or 9 in each case -- orthographical errors in these names through table of contents, section headings and index -- such as Rauwolfia for Rauvolfia; Virola carophylla for calophylla; etc.]. Being a second 'improved' edition, this is excessive, and while the bibliography is welcome, it is incomplete, lacking the dates. There is a brief introductory section before these plant monographs, which are followed by addresses of shamanic plant seed companies in Europe and the United States, with valuable tips on dealing with German customs for the latter. There are 33 pp. of trip-reports for 18 types of drugs, also in alphabetical order. The third part deals with caveats legal and psychonautic, the former of course specific for the German reader. While in many respects this book is similar to Las Plantas Alucinógenas [see MAPS Bulletin 8(1), 1998], it is far better done, and presents some new information of psychonautic bioassay of some of the more recondite inebriants, many of these by the author himslf, as is proper. This interesting and useful book, referenced and well-indexed, deserves far better editorial scrutiny and diligence.

Too Much: Erste Hilfe bei Drogenvergiftungen
[Too Much: First-aid for Drug Poisonings]

Richi Moscher, 1996 [5th improved edition]. Medienxperimente [DM5, SFR7, ÖS45]. Paperback; ISBN 3–925817–72–4; 62 pp.; 2 pp. cross-index; no bibliography; b/w inside-cover drawing as end-papers; 3 full-page cartoon illustrations. This is an extremely valuable and well-produced first-aid manual for drug overdoses, freak-outs and related medical problems. Speaking to German users and physicians, the psychotherapist author commences with the basics -- how to recognize poisonings, artificial respiration, cardiac massage; emphasizing when and how to seek medical attention, including 24-hour 'phone emergency numbers in major German cities. There follows a brief section on prospective antidotes for given inebriants, another on some special contraindications for MAO-inhibitors, with an interlude discussing the "Right to Inebriants," and particular precautions for injectors. The meat of this 4 x 6 inch booklet consists of 16 chapters for individual drugs and typical adulterants: alcohol; anabolic steroids; quinine; Ecstasy; fentanyl; hashish; heroin; tropane-alkaloid- containing Solanaceæ; caffeine-rich drugs; cocaine; LSD; barbiturates; amphetamines; the 'cuts'; strychnine and Valium® -- followed by a cross-index to these sections, which are listed in alphabetical order of their most rational German names. Each section gives chemical names, relative danger level, health risks from single- and chronic-uses, dangerous interactions with other drugs, adverse side effects and antidotes. The small size and clear design and typography are well-suited to the book's intended use. An English-language edition of the book is a desideratum, and should be present in every emergency room and drug- crisis center, as well as in the libraries of every intrepid psychonaut. The fact that 'cuts,' strychnine and quinine are included underscores a dirty little secret of putative drug [esp. 'heroin'] 'overdoses' -- that such chiefly involve toxicity of adulterants/diluents, not of the drugs in question -- hence are indirect results of prohibition, not of the drugs per se. Publisher Werner Pieper is to be congratulated for nicely producing this life-saving manual, at virtually a non- profit price [DM5 or about $3.00] -- this is an example of civic responsibility on the part of a publishing concern specializing in inebriant-related topics -- and one that should be emulated here.

Von Fahrten in den Weltraum der Seele: Berichte Über Selbstversuche mit LSD und Psilocybin
[On Travels in the Universe of the Soul: Reports on Self- experiments with LSD and Psilocybin]

Rudolf Gelpke, 1997. Medienxperimente / Rauschkunde [DM5, SFR7, ÖS45]. Staple-bound foldover; ISBN 3–930442–34–5; 27 pp.; no index; no bibliography; frontispiece photograph of author; 2 line-drawings by Li Gelpke; 2 by Dorette Huegin. We have here a facsimile reprint of Swiss Islamic scholar Rudolf Gelpke's [1928–1972] seminal and beautifully- written essay on his self-experiments with LSD and psilocybin. In all, there are reports of 3 psilocybin trips [of 9 total: 10,16 and 20 mg] and three with LSD [of 10 in all: 75,150 and 150 mcg], during a five-month period from April–September 1961. Albert Hofmann excerpted two of the LSD reports ["Dance of the Spirits in the Wind" and "Polyp from the Deep"] in his autobiography LSD: My Problem Child [McGraw-Hill, 1980], and Hofmann described one personal experience of psilocybin, in presence of Gelpke, along with Ernst Jünger [who himself chronicled this trip in Annäherungen (Ernst Klett Verlag, 1970)]. I was so impressed with Gelpke's literary skill, that I translated the entire paper into English [Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 13(1): 81–89, 1981]. In this welcome reprint of a German classic [Antaios 3(5): 393–411, 1962], it is unfortunate that Figs. 1 and 4 are transposed; while true pp. 24–25 appear after true pp. 26–27, potentially confusing readers. Moreover, the brown ink on yellow stock does not do justice to the illustrations, which were on glossy stock in the original. Outside of the writing of Jünger and Wasson, however, there are no better descriptions of the visionary effects of these entheogens, and it is wonderful to see this timely reprint.

Mit Einem Fuss in der Zukunft: Die Bemerkenswerte Spirituelle Reise einer Psychonautischen Oma
[One Foot in the Future: The Remarkable Spiritual Journey of a Psychonautic Grandmother]

Nina Graboi, 1997. Medienxperimente / Rauschkunde [DM5, SFR7, ÖS45]. Staple-bound foldover; ISBN 3–930442–09–4; 27 pp.; no index; no bibliography; frontispiece photograph of the author. This booklet is divided into two parts. The first "The Life of a Psychonautic Grandmother," was adapted by publisher Werner Pieper from Graboi's book One Foot in the Future: A Woman's Spiritual Journey [Aerial Press, 1991], summarizing the story of her life. There follows "I'm a Luminous Noodle in the Cosmic Soup," an interview of Graboi by David J. Brown and Rebecca McClen Novick, translated and excerpted from their book Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium [Crossing Press, 1993]. The booklet concludes with "One Foot in the Present: An Afterword" by Pieper, in which he describes his meeting and correspondence with the Austrian author, and his compromise decision to excerpt her book for German readers. Unfortunately there was an error in imposition, such that the final three pages are in reverse order; otherwise this is a useful introduction to a book which would otherwise remain largely unknown in the German-speaking world.


Jonathan Ott
Natural Products Co.
Apartado Postal 532
Xalapa, Veracruz, México


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