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Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and…

Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft

by Dale Pendell

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235680,517 (4.55)1
This is the first volume of North Atlantic Books' updated paperback edition of Dale Pendell's Pharmako trilogy, an encyclopedic study of the history and uses of psychoactive plants and related synthetics first published between 1995 and 2005. The books form an interrelated suite of works that provide the reader with a unique, reliable, and often personal immersion in this medically, culturally, and spiritually fascinating subject. All three books are beautifully designed and illustrated, and are written with unparalleled authority, erudition, playfulness, and range.Pharmako/Poeia- Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft includes a new introduction by the author and as in previous editions focuses on familiar psychoactive plant-derived substances and related synthetics, ranging from the licit (tobacco, alcohol) to the illicit (cannabis, opium) and the exotic (absinthe, salvia divinorum, nitrous oxide). Each substance is explored in detail, not only with information on its history, pharmacology, preparation, and cultural and esoteric correspondences, but also the subtleties of each plant's effect on consciousness in a way that only poets can do. The whole concoction is sprinkled with abundant quotations from famous writers, creating a literary brew as intoxicating as its subject.The Pharmako series is continued in Pharmako/Dynamis (focusing on stimulants and empathogens) and Pharmako/Gnosis (which addresses psychedelics and shamanic plants).… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
he understands things from a personal point of view. He seems to have a fairly well informed and interesting point of view
( )
  soraxtm | Jun 18, 2019 |
“Dale Pendell reactivates the ancient connection between the bardic poet and the shaman. His Pharmako/Poeia is a litany to the secret plant allies that have always accompanied us along the alchemical trajectory that leads to a new and yet authentically archaic future.”
  TerenceKempMcKenna | Feb 24, 2013 |
Well, here's a unique book. It's a kind of encyclopedia of psychoactive substances, ranging from beer to Salvia divinorum. But no, it's not really an encyclopedia - it's more poetry than reference, fact mixed with metaphor and a good deal of cryptic imagery. The sections on the plants are interspersed with mysterious writings on alchemy, the meanings of which are often unclear. The descriptions of the substances contain scattered paragraphs concerning interesting historical overviews, chemical details, mythological tales, strange poetry. This book has a wonderful atmosphere of mystique.It can perhaps seem a little forced at times, and it's often frustrating trying to decipher what the author meant, if anything, with his talk of sun doctors and quicksilver. The very "Poison Path", a concept that seems to be the foundation of the book's philosophy, is never clearly explained, and I'm still not sure I know what it's all about. But this confusion, if you're in the right mindset for it, reinforces the feeling that this book holds the key to a great secret knowledge, ready to be revealed if only you could figure out what the lock is.But it's not a book about occultism. It's (almost) always clear that all this mystical talk is only metaphor, and Pendell sounds more like a mad poet than like a new age quack.Pharmako/Poeia is not, I repeat, a book of reference. There's much to be learned from it, to be sure, but those looking for comprehensive information on psychoactive substances should look elsewhere (there is, however, a terrific commented bibliography here, which can help direct the reader's own research). It's hard to label this book and say exactly what it's about, because it's unlike anything I've ever read. Maybe there's a hint of House of Leaves here; that's the closest thing I can think of. Reading this is a remarkable experience, and I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote clpm | Aug 3, 2011 |
First of three books in the Pharmako series. What a wonderfully bizarre book. I don't even know where to start. Technically it's non-fiction. At its core it's a book on plants/herbs; specifically, ones that have interesting effects on human physiology. Unlike most non-fiction books, this one is written in a prose style and filled with fascinating quotes from scientists, poets and philosophers. It's also filled with classical botanical drawings and medieval wood-cuts.

It's a really great read -- one part history lesson, one part poetry, one part witchcraft. Besides the usual suspects: alcohol (yeast), cannabis, tobacco and opium; there are scores of other plants most people know nothing about: Salvia Divinorum, Kava, Wormwood and more. Books like this could easily be bloodless, dry and tedious, but Pendell's presentation is thought-provoking, well researched and beautiful (the artwork) -- even humorous. Pendell has a really wry wit. He covers how various plants were used in folk medicine, ritual, and how they work into our mythology and continue to effect our social systems. Also included are: growing tips, preparation, recipes, dosage, and dangers.

Here's one area I don't often comment on: the layout. The way this book is designed makes it a pleasure to read AND allows easy-to-find access to topics should you choose to use it as a manual or recipe book. It also includes an extensive glossary, index, and resources. ( )
3 vote Dead_Dreamer | Jun 23, 2008 |
In the Pharmako trilogy, Pendell's poesis guides through the guantlet of psychoactive substances. Their history and application is interwoven with art both visual and verbal. This book is not a simple encyclopedia. It is a living document of ancient pharmocological knowledge.

Pharmoko/Poeia takes us through a multitude of muses both helpful and destructive. Solar. lunar. Benevolent, Malevont. Alcohol, Cannabis, Salvia, Heroin, and more. The Sheperdess is the least ensalving. The others like to cling. ( )
  poetontheone | Jul 20, 2007 |
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