The Literature of Psychedelics

Winter 1996/97 Vol. 07, No. 1 Learning to Crawl

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This is the second of Bob Wallace’s column about current books and periodicals in the field of psychedelic inquiry. This time we have a truly amazing number of new books on various aspects of the mind modifying materials. More are in the pipeline, too. It’s great to see more publishing in this evolving field.

New Books:

  • One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest
    Wade Davis

    Combines a fine biography of Richard Evans Schultes with a fine history of South American ethnobotany. A most compelling story by a long-time student of both, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow. Starts in 1936 when young Schultes studies Huichol peyote use and Mazatec mushroom rituals. Continues with great true stories of Schultes’ twelve years, and the author’s eight years, of travel in the Amazon basin, learning about ayahuasca, coca, other active plants, and the sad rubber scandal. Good reading science and adventure. Notes and index. (1996, Simon & Schuster 0-684-80886-2, 538 page large hardback, $26.95).

  • People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion, and Survival
    Stacy Schaefer & Peter Furst (editors)

    Excellent, extensive, many faceted study of Huichol Indian development, culture, art, spirit, mythology, and other topics. These eighteen papers, both scholarly and sensitive, come from experts around the world, with material from many decades of anthropology research as well as direct contributions from Huichol authors. Schaefer relates the meaning of peyote to Huichols, and describes their temple and its solar geometry. Also includes Huichol medicine, minority use of a psychotropic Solanaceae plant, the deer-maize-peyote trinity, wolf power, the Land of the Dead, and current political and ecological challenges to Huichol survival. Glossary, bibliography, index. (1996, Univ. of New Mexico Press 0-8263-1684-0, 608 page large hardback, $59.95)

  • One Nation Under God: Triumph of the Native American Church
    Huston Smith & Reuben Snake (editors)

    In the first part of this fine book, the late roadman Reuben Snake and many Church members speak from the heart about the Native American Church, and Peyote, their Medicine. Describes the injustice and suffering caused by the 1990 Supreme Court ruling against them, and their successful legal battle for the right to use peyote as a sacrament. Nice sections on the Peyote ceremony, the history of the Church, and basic pharmacology of the cactus. Forward by Senator Daniel Inouye. (1996, Clear Light 0-940666-71-5, 176 page hardback, $24.95).

  • Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany
    Michael J. Balick & Paul Alan Cox

    Overview of the relationship between people and plants, then sections on the healing, eating, building, and visionary plants, ending on conservation. “Entering the Other World” section explains ebena snuff preparation; ayahuasca botany and biochemistry; communal kava experience; Cannabis in world history; coca; opium; and peyote use in the Native American Church. Good photos and graphics, suggested reading, index. Excellent introduction to the field. (1996, Scientific American Library 0-7167-5061-9, 238 page large hardback, $32.95).

  • Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: A Guide to Identification
    Paul Stamets

    Most comprehensive and best produced field guide ever for mushrooms with psilocybin. Introduces a simple field test for active species, then details nearly 100 species, in various habitats, and shows similar species to avoid. Great color photos! Nice chapter on Great Tips for Good Trips; covers dose in detail, rituals, set and setting. Also useful for mycologists, scholars, and physicians. Bibliography and index. (1996, Ten Speed Press 0-89815-839-7, 256 page paperback, $24.95).

  • Magic Mushrooms Around the World: A Scientific Journey Across Cultures and Time
    Jochen Gartz

    New translation of noted German expert’s 1993 book. Ethnomycology of seven species, includes Psilocybe semilanceata and cyanescens. Notes on identification, bluing reaction, and cultivation. Modern cultural approaches to psilocybin mushrooms in regions worldwide. Also covers psychotropic effects and use in psychotherapy. Color illustrations, bibliography. (1996, LIS Publications 0-9653399-0-4, 129 page large paperback, $24.95; Mind Books $17.95).

  • Salvinorin: The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum
    D. M. Turner

    This Mexican sage plant, and its active compound, affects people in uncommon ways; at times subtle, terrifying, geometric, visionary. Salvinorin is unusual, a terpenoid not active at at any known receptor sites. Turner describes his journeys with Salvia leaf, extracted salvanorin, and their use with other mind materials such as LSD. Also has a brief history of Mazatec use, modern research, plant care, and bibliography. (1996, Panther Press 0-9642636-2-9, 58 page paperback, $9.95).

  • Ayahuasca Analogues and Plant-Based Tryptamines: The Best of the Entheogen Review 1992-1996

    Jim DeKorne (editor) The Review quietly collects and shares reports of first-hand experiments with many visionary plants. This monograph covers reports about ayahuasca analogues using plants such as Mimosa bark or Phalaris grass. These notes from the field (and kitchen) complement reference works such as Ayahuasca Analogues by Jonathan Ott. (1996, The Entheogen Review, 74 page paperback, $19.95).

  • Wisdom’s Maw: The Acid Novel
    Todd Brendan Fahey

    Historical fiction about LSD, the CIA, Captain Al Hubbard (the man who gave LSD to Timothy Leary), and others, based on extensive personal research. Was the turning-on and turmoil of the 60’s part of a CIA plan to introduce the public to LSD? Outrageous and intriguing. (1996, Far Gone Books 0-9651839-0-4, 223 page paperback, $18.95).


  • Buddhism & Psychedelics: Tricycle Vol IV no. 1
    Helen Tworkov (editor)

    Excellent spiritual perspectives on consciousness-altering materials, by many masters of the mind spheres. Terence McKenna and Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass and Richard Baker Roshi, Rick Strassman and Rick Fields; 14 articles on how entheogens help (and hinder) those on the road to enlightenment. (1996, Tricycle Magazine, 160 page large paperback, $7.50; Mind Books $6.95).

  • The Peyote Awareness Journal
    Patricia Byarlay (editor)

    New newsletter devoted to the peyote plant and its sacramental and healing uses, as well as cultivation techniques and legal issues. Well written and useful. Great for anyone interested in this powerful plant and how people relate to it. (The Peyote Foundation, $25.00 for six issues per year; Mind Books $4.95 per issue).

  • Yearbook of Cross-Cultural Medicine and Psychotherapy, 1995: Sacred Plants, Consciousness, and Healing; Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives.
    Michael Winkelman & Walter Andritzky (editors)

    New series from German publisher; most papers here (13 of 17) are in English. These include Stan Grof on psychedelic therapy and breathwork; Naranjo on psychedelics and meditation; Krippner on creative behavior and psychedelics; Yensen on shamanic and psychotherapist paradigms for psychedelics; Grob & Bravo on social reactions to psychedelic use; Schultes on New World hallucinogens; Groisman and Sell on the Santo Daime and ayahuasca; Mabit, Giov, and Vega on Amazonian shamanism for treatment of drug addicts; Sanches-Ramos on ibogaine; and Anderson on peyote as medicine. Excellent collection. (1996, VWR 3-927408-93-X, 416 page paperback, DM 68.00; Mind Books $44.95).

  • Yearbook for Ethnomedicine, Issue 4, 1995
    Christian R=E4tsch & J. Baker (editors)

    Latest issue of this German journal; about half the papers are in English. Betty Eisner on a visit with Maria Sabina; Ripinsky-Naxon on psychoactivity and shamans; Callaway on brain DMT; Karl Jansen on ketamine and NDE’s; Defrese on brain mechanisms of MDMA; Ralph Metzner visits the Lacandon Mayans; Emboden on Cannabis; Hamid on anthropology of drug legalization, other good contributions. (1996, VWR 3-927408-85-9, 344 page paperback, DM 58.00; Mind Books $39.95).

  • Psychedelic Resource List
    Jon Hanna

    (1996, Soma Graphics 0-9654383-0-9, 120 page large paperback, $19.95).

  • Psychedelic Sourcebook
    Will Beifuss

    (1996, Rosetta 0-9647946-2-4, 72 page paperback, $12.95). These two are directories of books, periodicals, research organizations, and botanicals (seeds, spores, plants, extracts, and so on). They also list Internet sites of interest, and other resources. Both are updated periodically; both have just published fresh compilations of current sources. The Resource List is larger, with a wider range than the Sourcebook (including Cannabis-related sources), but both are valuable for anyone in the field.

    New Editions:

  • Ecstasy: Dance, Trance, and Transformation
    Nicholas Saunders with Rick Doblin

    Excellent latest fully updated book on MDMA; what it does, ways to use it, how therapists use it, possible dangers, suggestions for new users. Good book for practical advice; not just the basics, but how people use it to improve relationships, for personal growth, for trance dancing, and more. Every section provides deep, detailed, yet clear coverage of some complex areas, from neurotoxicity to shamanic rave music forms to effects with other materials. Nice color photos. Extensive, annotated bibliography by Shulgin. Internet sites. Index. Sales support MAPS. (1996; Quick American 0-932551-20-3, 296 page paperback, $19.95; from MAPS $18.00).

  • Peyote the Divine Cactus
    Edward F. Anderson

    Great introduction to the peyote plant itself. Use in Mexico by Huichol; use in the United States; Native American peyote rituals (with Navajo variations); peyote user’s experience; some medical uses; pharmacology (with doses and toxicity); chemistry of mescaline and the other alkaloids (with structures of 57); botany and cultivation; legal status; good bibliography and index. (1996, 2nd edition, Univ. of Arizona Press 0-8165-1654-5, 290 pages; paperback $19.95, hardback $49.95).

  • Living With Drugs
    Michael Gossop

    Effects of recreational drugs on individuals and cultures, and vice versa, how personal expectations and social context affect drug use. Chapters on alcohol, tobacco, Cannabis, hallucinogens, and hard drugs. Prohibition histories. An interesting, British view. Bibliography and index. (1996, 4th edition, Arena 1-85742-216-3, 238 page paperback, $23.95).

  • Marijuana Law
    Richard Glen Boire

    Practical, accurate information on federal (and some state) drug laws: forfeiture, borders, searches, warrants, houses, cars, gardens, arrest rights, attorneys, sentencing, and drug testing. Covers many fine points, most of which applies to psychedelics as well as marijuana. (1996, 2nd edition, Ronin Publishing 0-914171-86-0, 192 page paperback, $15.95).

  • Plant Drug Analysis: A Thin Layer Chromatography Atlas
    Hildebert Wagner & Sabine Bladt

    Thin layer chromatography is a common way to analyze plant compounds. If you know the technique, this atlas of solvents, developers, Rf values, and color plates will help. Has many essential oils, some alkaloids (Syrian rue, opium, Yohimbe, Rauwolfia, Cacao, ergot, some Solanaceae; no tryptamines), Cannabis, other drugs. (1996, 2nd edition, Springer 3-540-58676-8, 400 page hardback, $198; Mind Books $239.95).

  • Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology
    Jack R. Cooper, Floyd E. Bloom, & Robert H. Roth

    Well-known graduate level textbook. Very detailed and complete; a scientific review. Chapters on each major neurotransmitter, including metabolism and various receptors; the one on serotonin describes the known workings of LSD. Good book for the serious student or professional. Chapter references and index. (1996, 7th edition, Oxford Univ. Press 0-19-510399-8, 465 page paperback, $28.95).

  • The Pathology of Drug Abuse
    Steven B. Karch

    Hallucinogen chapter covers mescaline, other phenethylamines, tryptamines, ergolines, PCP; some good metabolism and toxicity data. More extensive chapters on cocaine, other stimulants, and narcotics. Large bibliographies and index. (1996, 2nd edition, CRC Press 0-8493-9464-3, 476 page hardback, $79.95).

  • Psychedelic Reflections
    Lester Grinspoon & James Bakalar (editors)
  • Not new (1983) but newly available. Excellent collection of essays by Hofmann, Leary, Weil, Grof, Shulgin, Tart, Walter Houston Clark, others. Sections on history, social, personal, and spiritual uses, adverse effects, use in psychiatry and the study of the mind. Index. (1983; was Human Sciences Press 0-89885-129-7, 265 page hardback, Mind Books $42.95).

    Where to get these books

    All books may be ordered from Mind Books, the author’s company; of course many are available from other good sources. To contact Mind Books, call:

    tel: 800-829-8127
    tel: 707-829-8127
    fax: 707-829-8100

    or write:

    Mind Books
    321 S Main St, #543
    Sebastopol, CA 95472

    Some of these books are also available through FS Books,